One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A rail round a ship's stern.
- ‘Pamela was not sitting on the deck, but she was standing near the taffrail looking off the stern.’
- ‘He listened to his steps retreat to the taffrail.’
- ‘Hands quickly reached for taffrails, stanchions, ratlines or some sort of support, and, a moment later, Raven spun the wheel with all her strength to the right until the helm was hard over.’
- ‘As soon as they passed the helmsman, he pulled her to the taffrail.’
- ‘He noted Kennedy at the taffrail looking back towards whence they had come.’
Early 19th century: alteration (by association with rail), of obsolete tafferel ‘panel’, used to denote the flat part of a ship's stern above the transom, from Dutch tafereel.
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