One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A pointed metal tool used by sailors to separate strands of rope or wire, especially in splicing.
- ‘This knot is used to temporarily secure a marlinspike, a device used to splice rope, to another object.’
- ‘In splicing or other work requiring the opening of the strands of rope one's fingers are often inadequate, and a marlinspike or fid must be employed.’
- ‘A screaming sailor, clad in a sodden loincloth and wielding a marlinspike, leaps at him.’
- ‘There's no technobabbling about phased inducers or flux capacitors or what-have-you; the ‘space-ships’ are gorgeously retro, with sails and masts and marlinspikes.’
Early 17th century (originally as marling spike): from marling, present participle of marl ‘fasten with marline’ (from Dutch marlen ‘keep binding’) + spike.
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