One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A rope attaching the weather side of a square sail to a ship's bow.
- ‘Outside the harbor, the waves were high enough that we had to grip the bowlines to keep our feet.’
- ‘She grabbed him and yanked him unceremoniously into the boat, and untied the bowline herself.’
2A simple knot for forming a non-slipping loop at the end of a rope.
- ‘While we tied a bowline loop in the end of a rope I called, ‘What sort of shape's he in?’’
- ‘Do not use a bowline - it will probably come undone in your pocket and let you down the moment you come to deploy it.’
- ‘‘A hideous thing to watch, even as a quasi-curious foreigner,’ was Thompson's initial reaction, despite his assertion that he ‘can still tie a mean bowline knot on just about anything in less than ten seconds’.’
- ‘Now show me how to tie that bowline knot again, my friend.’
- ‘The other Alan, trying to be grown up, was sat there painting on a beard with a burnt bit of cork and practising tying a bowline with his left hand’
- ‘At the other end, I have a length of webbing wrapped once completely around the tree with loops tied in either end, also with bowlines (otherwise known as a ‘rabbit runner’).’
- ‘To secure your donkey while you sleep, dine, sightsee or shop, you'll need to demonstrate proficiency with the chair or bowline knot.’
- ‘I learned to tie my knots, especially the difficult bowline.’
- ‘Slip the loop of the bowstring over the nock and down the limb of the bow and tie the free end of the string to the other nock using a timber hitch, bowline or similar non-stressing knot.’
- ‘Out he sprang like a stag before the boat could be blown back into the sea and tied his vessel to the footbridge with a perfect bowline.’
- ‘Trial watchers in the public gallery could be seen practising their bowlines as forensic scientist Rodger Ide gave an insight into the techniques of examining knots.’
Middle English: from Middle Low German bōlīne, Middle Dutch boechlijne, from boeg ‘ship's bow’ + lijne ‘line’.
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