• WordNet 3.6
    • n capstan a windlass rotated in a horizontal plane around a vertical axis; used on ships for weighing anchor or raising heavy sails
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Capstan A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n capstan An apparatus working on the principle of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights or applying power. It consists of an upright barrel, either smooth or having ribs called whelps, which are arranged about a spindle. Above the barrel is the capstan-head, which has holes to receive the ends of levers or bars by which the barrel is revolved. At the bottom of the barrel is a pawl-head, with pawls to catch a ratchet-ring or pawl-rim, which is secured to the floor or platform. A capstan differs from a windlass in having a vertical instead of a horizontal axis. The capstan employed to draw coal from pits is usually called a gin, and when worked by horses a whim-gin. On board ship it is used for weighing the anchor, warping ship, etc.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Capstan kap′stan an upright machine turned by spokes so as to wind upon it a cable which draws something, generally the anchor, on board ship.
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
F. cabestan, fr. Sp. cabestrante, cabrestante, fr. cabestrar, to bind with a halter, fr. cabestro,halter, fr. L. capistrum, halter, fr. capere, to hold (see Capacious); or perh. the Spanish is fr. L. caper, goat + stans, p. pr. of stare, to stand; cf. F. chèvre, she-goat, also a machine for raising heavy weights
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Fr. cabestan, capestan, through Low L. forms from L. capĕre, to take, hold.


In literature:

But a couple of minutes at the capstan reassured us.
"From a Cornish Window" by Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
The loose end was finally picked up and knotted, and the capstan started again.
"Two on the Trail" by Hulbert Footner
Only a slight bow; after which he appears to busy himself with the log-slate lying on the capstan-head.
"The Flag of Distress" by Mayne Reid
It has to be hauled up by a capstan.
"New Treasure Seekers" by E. (Edith) Nesbit
He got round an old man's heart like a rope round a capstan.
"The Manxman A Novel - 1895" by Hall Caine
On shore stand the mariners of Hythe (in number four), manning the capstan.
"Faces and Places" by Henry William Lucy
It was consequently impossible to cast anchor, or to use the capstan.
"Celebrated Travels and Travellers" by Jules Verne
The crew except the captain and the mate were gathered forward round the capstan.
"Boy Scouts in the North Sea" by G. Harvey Ralphson
A solid piece of cast-iron let into the step of the capstan, and in which the iron spindle at the heel of the capstan works.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
Someone had 'messed up' our capstan wire.
"A Poor Man's House" by Stephen Sydney Reynolds

In poetry:

'Twas the good ship Gyascutus,
All in the China seas,
With the wind a-lee and the capstan free
To catch the summer breeze.
"A Sailor's Yarn" by James Jeffrey Roche
They brought him white kid gloves, and pails,
And candlesticks, and potted quails,
And capstan-bars, and scales and weights,
And ornaments for empty grates.
"Pasha Bailey Ben" by William Schwenck Gilbert
There be many good songs we have knocked round the world to,
Manned capstan and halliard, reefed, shifted and furled to,
All round the oceans, since first we did roll
By the Straits of Le Mair for Coquimbo with coal.
"The Ship's Good-Bye" by Cicely Fox Smith
The crew was very sorry for their captain's downfall,
But the sight didn't their brave hearts appall;
Because they fastened the ropes to the "Pique" at the capstan,
And the "Pique" was dragged after the "Blanche," the sight was grand.
"An All-Night Sea Fight" by William Topaz McGonagall
Good-be to Dame Romancing an' her dainty feathered frock!
Good-by to all the laughter at the swingin' of the lock!
Good-by to capstan payments, good-by to ships at sea —
If the packets rest a-westin' — ah — westin's right for me!
"I've Been Dreamin'" by Bill Adams
But little need had I to learn what name was hers of old
From wheel or bell or pitted brass on capstan green with mould,
Who knew it like my christened own, as any man would know
The ship's that shared his goodliest years in days of long ago.
"Sold Foreign" by Cicely Fox Smith

In news:

Capstan Tennessee in Roane Co.
Loren Bone, general manager of Capstan Tennessee in Roane Co.
A woman died after being struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Fischer Boulevard and Capstan Drive Friday night.
A small, freely turning wheel in a tape drive that pushes the tape against a motor-driven wheel (the capstan) in order to move it.
It features a testing unit that Capstan Ag Systems uses to show differences between conventional spraying technology and the AIM Command and Sharpshooter pulsing spray application technology.