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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Hawse \Hawse\ (h[add]z or h[add]s; 277), n. [Orig. a hawse hole, or hole in the bow of the ship; cf. Icel. hals, h[=a]ls, neck, part of the bows of a ship, AS. heals neck. See Collar, and cf. Halse to embrace.]

  1. A hawse hole.

  2. (Naut.)

    1. The situation of the cables when a vessel is moored with two anchors, one on the starboard, the other on the port bow.

    2. The distance ahead to which the cables usually extend; as, the ship has a clear or open hawse, or a foul hawse; to anchor in our hawse, or athwart hawse.

    3. That part of a vessel's bow in which are the hawse holes for the cables.

      Athwart hawse. See under Athwart.

      Foul hawse, a hawse in which the cables cross each other, or are twisted together.

      Hawse block, a block used to stop up a hawse hole at sea; -- called also hawse plug.

      Hawse piece, one of the foremost timbers of a ship, through which the hawse hole is cut.

      Hawse plug. Same as Hawse block (above).

      To come in at the hawse holes, to enter the naval service at the lowest grade. [Cant]

      To freshen the hawse, to veer out a little more cable and bring the chafe and strain on another part.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

part of a ship's bow (containing the hawse-holes), late 15c., from Old English or Old Norse hals "part of a ship's prow," literally "neck" (see collar). Respelled with -aw- late 1500s.\n\n


a. (context nautical English) A position relative to the course and position of a vessel, somewhat forward of the stem. adv. (context nautical English) Said of a vessel lying to two anchors, streamed from either bow. n. 1 (context nautical English) The part of the bow containing the hawseholes. 2 (context nautical English) A hawsehole or hawsepipe. 3 (context nautical English) The horizontal distance or area between an anchored vessel's bows and the actual position of her anchor(s).


n. the hole that an anchor rope passes through [syn: hawsehole, hawsepipe]

Usage examples of "hawse".

Say de bridge washed uhway wid yuh and de hawse on it, and you got hit by de timber.

Ah done told yuh time and time uhgin dat ignorance is de hawse dat wisdom rides.

Jackson and Stafford stood by at the rolling hitch, the knot making a bulky lump in the anchor cable which, in the bomb ketch, went over the bow through a fairlead in the bulwark, not through a hawse hole, so that if they were not careful the knot would jam.

Clapping our helm a-weather, and hauling our fore sheets to windward, we fell off athwart his hawse, and raked him with several broadsides fore and aft.

He pulled himself up until he was even with the hawse pipe and hung there for a full minute.

The hawse pipe was a good ten feet below the top edge of the bow gunnels.

She peeped through the hawse pipe, saw only dim grey-black deck and spattering rain.

When each wave broke more water was forced in through the hawse pipe.

A brass hawse pipe liner, some loops of anchor chain, a lathe-turned rail studded with iron spikes.

They wandered in various parts of the ship, sometimes leaning on the depth-charge racks on the fantail, or stretching out on the deck by the bow, watching the flying fish leap in front of the rising and falling bow and listening to the Caribbean race by through the hawse pipes.

The French commander was obviously determined that there should be no repetition of the Nile: he had made sure that no enemy could double upon him, taking him between two fires, and he had also taken- up such a position in his little bay that it would be impossible to lie athwart his hawse and rake him, since his bows were protected by the solid masonry.

The leader could then lie athwart our hawse and be able to rake us as he passes, and we’.

After this, of course, every officer went, with the exception of the master, who said that he'd as soon have two round turns in his hawse as go to see people kick their legs about like fools, and that he'd take care of the ship.

He woan say nuthin’ ‘bout de fune’l, an’ in de mawnin’ he lock de do’ an’ git on his hawse an’ go off ter town.