Definition of derrick in English:



  • 1A kind of crane with a movable pivoted arm for moving heavy weights, especially on a ship.

    • ‘Timbers for the largest derricks could not be provided locally, so they were shipped from the West and the South.’
    • ‘Today, two derrick cranes will move the heavy reactor and its related equipment to a trailer with 360 wheels on the pier.’
    • ‘The vessel to be fitted with winches, derricks, wheels and ordinary runners capable of handling lifts up to 2 tons.’
    • ‘The ship is self-sufficient in that it has its own derricks enabling to load and unload all over the world.’
    • ‘The derrick cranes being used for erection were then moved forward to the next segment and the cycle was repeated.’
    winch, hoist, davit, windlass, tackle, block and tackle, lifting gear
    View synonyms
  • 2The framework over an oil well or similar boring, holding the drilling machinery.

    • ‘Oil wells no longer require derricks, so west county's 7,000 rickety towers are largely gone.’
    • ‘A 350 ft derrick will support the six-mile drill pipe, which could take more than a year to drive through the crust.’
    • ‘A few nameless shrubs, oil derricks and transmission towers line the far edges of the highway.’
    • ‘There were oil derricks and natural gas pipelines, grain elevators six stories high.’
    • ‘Soon drilling derricks, pipelines and roads carved up the region, and oil spills polluted lakes and rivers.’


Early 17th century (denoting a hangman, also the gallows): from Derrick, the surname of a London hangman.