One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of a row of holes near the waterline in the side of a small sailing ship, to allow for the use of oars in calm weather.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Lloyd's Evening Post. From row + port. Compare Dutch roei-poort, German Rojepforte (both 1798 or earlier), Swedish ro-port, and also Middle Dutch roeygat (Dutch roeigat). Compare earlier rowlock.
row port/ˈrəʊ pɔːt/
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