Definition of binnacle in English:



  • A built-in housing for a ship's compass.

    • ‘The bridge still had the ship's wheel in place, and the compass binnacle was intact.’
    • ‘The centre console is a work of technological art, and so is the instrument binnacle, with the tachometer taking center stage, and the digital speedometer resting inside the tach.’
    • ‘Still remaining are the steering binnacle, though without compass or wheel, and the chart table against the rear bulkhead.’
    • ‘The wheel placement, the relationship between pedals and seat, and the sighting of the instruments in the main binnacle were excellent.’
    • ‘Not only do telegraphs remain bolted to the interior decks. but so does the binnacle and steering gear.’
    • ‘But name the last luxury hotel you stayed in that had spiral iron staircases, whitewashed walls, vaulted cellars and display cases full of antique scrimshaw, brass binnacles and needlepoint portraits of old clippers?’
    • ‘The gauges are housed in Mini-style binnacles - turbo pressure and engine temp perched centrally, speedo and rev counter behind the wheel.’
    • ‘Those that are averse - in a figurative sense - to inspecting hulls and flicking compass binnacles can steam straight into the action via the Patrols option.’
    • ‘Stepping to the binnacle, Hornblower noted the compass heading.’
    • ‘I revert to being a metal wreck-diver, and the woodwork is overshadowed by the steering binnacle, telegraphs and lamp-locker.’
    • ‘The restaurant decor is decidedly nautical, with decking, bollards and rope along the front, portholes here and there and even the binnacle from the M / S Vestkysten, an old Danish rescue ship.’
    • ‘He looked at the binnacle to check the compass, walked over to the rail and looked at the sails set.’
    • ‘It was alleged that there had been non-disclosure of reports in Jersey that French frigates were off the coast and that a capture had been made the day after the insured vessel sailed and that a ship's binnacle had been afloat at sea.’
    • ‘Some divers are still keen ‘brass’ hunters - and many a living room in East Yorkshire features lovingly-polished binnacles and portholes, taken off in an underwater expedition.’
    • ‘On the brass binnacle containing the compass were engraved the words, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life’.’
    • ‘Twin anti-aircraft gun barrels are coated with red sponge, a compass binnacle lies broken and beheaded and another has rolled away among other debris.’
    • ‘The Mk II version has a permanently installed drop-leaf table forward of the binnacle.’
    • ‘The instrument binnacle gets new style dials and colours and there is also a 20 cm wide information screen on the centre console that displays air conditioning, audio information and a trim computer.’
    • ‘A cabin enclosing the ship's wheel, compass binnacle and a telegraph to the engine room.’
    • ‘We cut through open remains of stern cabins, the galley and engine room, working up to the wheelhouse, where a large grouper lurks behind the remains of the steering binnacle.’


Late 15th century (as bittacle): from Spanish bitácula, bitácora or Portuguese bitacola, from Latin habitaculum ‘dwelling place’, from habitare ‘inhabit’. The change to binnacle occurred in the mid 18th century.