One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In square-rigged sailing vessels: a short line holding the parrel or truss of a yard to the mast or crosstrees, allowing freedom of movement for bracing.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in William Sutherland (fl. 1711–1717). Probably a variant of knave-line, or perhaps from nave + line, or perhaps from navel + line.
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