Definition of derrick in English:



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

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

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


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