One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A European plant that resembles the thistle, with flower heads that bear shiny persistent straw-coloured bracts.
Genus Carlina, family Compositae: several species
- ‘A thistle that hugs the ground and provides delightful, lasting dried flowers for winter is the stemless Carline Thistle (Carlina acaulis).’
- ‘Time was, carline thistles were used as country barometers because the flowers expand in dry weather and contract when it is damp.’
- ‘In France and Germany names meaning ‘wild artichoke’ are given to various thistles with edible heads, including the smooth carline thistle, Carlina acaulis, and milk thistle, Silybum marianum.’
Late 16th century: from French, from medieval Latin carlina, perhaps an alteration of cardina (from Latin carduus ‘thistle’), by association with Carolus Magnus (see Charlemagne), to whom its medicinal properties were said to have been revealed.
Any of the pieces of squared timber fitted fore and aft between the deck beams of a wooden ship to support the deck planking.
- ‘The first thing to go on these carlines is the planksheer, which continues aft to form the washboards.’
- ‘Nail them to breasthook, carlines and gunwales.’
- ‘To put on the deck you first want a set of deck carlines, spaced about eight inches.’
- ‘Anticipating some rough sails, I laid down additional beams and wedges against a possible knock-down but the original design was stabile to at least 60 degrees, which put the lee side of the coach house under to its carline.’
- ‘They will meet end to end over a block placed a foot aft of the carline which forms the nail strip for the front cockpit coaming, which latter crosses the boat five feet aft of the bow.’
Middle English (in the sense ‘(old) woman, witch’): from Old Norse karling; the reason for nautical use of the word remains obscure.
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