One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A rope used in square-rigged ships to spread a foresail or mainsail when sailing before the wind, by hauling the clews to the end of a lower studdingsail boom.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Samuel Sturmy (1633–1669), writer on seamanship. Origin uncertain; perhaps from Spanish † passarín or its probable etymon Italian regional (Venice) passerìn, with loss of final -n.
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