• WordNet 3.6
    • v clew roll into a ball
    • n clew evidence that helps to solve a problem
    • n clew a ball of yarn or cord or thread
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Clew A ball of thread, yarn, or cord; also, The thread itself. "Untwisting his deceitful clew ."
    • Clew (Naut) A combination of lines or nettles by which a hammock is suspended.
    • Clew (Naut) A loop and thimbles at the corner of a sail.
    • Clew (Naut) A lower corner of a square sail, or the after corner of a fore-and-aft sail.
    • Clew That which guides or directs one in anything of a doubtful or intricate nature; that which gives a hint in the solution of a mystery. "The clew , without which it was perilous to enter the vast and intricate maze of countinental politics, was in his hands."
    • Clew To direct; to guide, as by a thread. "Direct and clew me out the way to happiness."
    • Clew (Naut) To move of draw (a sail or yard) by means of the clew garnets, clew lines, etc.; esp. to draw up the clews of a square sail to the yard.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • clew See clue.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Clew klōō a ball of thread, or the thread in it: a thread that guides through a labyrinth: anything that solves a mystery: the corner of a sail
    • v.t Clew to coil up into a clew or ball: to truss or tie up sails to the yards
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. clewe, clowe, clue, AS. cleowen, cliwen, clywe, ball of thread; akin to D. kluwen, OHG. chliwa, chliuwa, G. dim. kleuel, knäuel, and perch. to L. gluma, hull, husk, Skr. glaus, sort of ball or tumor. Perch. akin to E. claw,. √26. Cf. Knawel


In literature:

While I was below, rigging up my clews, I saw a commotion on the other side of the deck.
"A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"" by Russell Doubleday
Yet the bare possibility existed, and Nick never ignored even the shadow of a clew.
"With Links of Steel" by Nicholas Carter
Her fancy hunted for the clew.
"The Marriage of William Ashe" by Mrs. Humphry Ward
The topsails were soon clewed up and made fast, then the flying jib run down and furled.
"Dutch Courage and Other Stories" by Jack London
Have you no clew to her friends?
"The Doctor's Dilemma" by Hesba Stretton
Whatever was hidden behind that calm exterior, she had no intention of giving a chance observer any clew to it.
"The Story of the Foss River Ranch" by Ridgwell Cullum
We searched the entire building without finding a clew, and I am deeply troubled.
"The Mystery of Mary" by Grace Livingston Hill
The hotel registers in Boggs City may give us a clew.
"The Daughter of Anderson Crow" by George Barr McCutcheon
Who has presented, who can present, you with a clew to lead you out of it?
"The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. II. (of 12)" by Edmund Burke
Premature publication of clews too often handicaps us.
"The Green Eyes of Bâst" by Sax Rohmer

In poetry:

Why, even flow'rs change with the hours,
And the moon has divers phases;
And shall the mind
Be racked to find
A clew to Fortune's mazes?
"To Quintus Hirpinus" by Eugene Field
It seemed we should lie there for ever,
As if no wind till Judgment Day
Would set her royal clews a-quiver
And speed her southward on her way.
"Doldrums: One Of Murphy's Yarns" by Cicely Fox Smith
Svelte Zamperina's Lips incarnadine,
And languored lifting, fasten unto mine,
Their rubric Message giving Hint and Clew
How frequently a Kiss in Time saves Nine.
"The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám Jr." by Wallace Irwin
But, if instead a hand from the blue yonder
Held out a scroll,
On which my life was, writ, and I with wonder
Beheld unroll
To a long century's end its mystic clew,
What should I do?
"When?" by Susan Coolidge
Your words, your breath is gone!
O uncaught spirit, we'll remember you
By those remote and ever-flying birds
Adown the Shannon's reach, or crying through
The mist between Clew Bay and Dublin Bay!
"In Memory Of John Butler Yeats" by Padraic Colum
Where do you go when the Fairies call,
Little Boy! Little Boy! where?
Wade through the clews of the grasses tall,
Hearing the weir and the waterfall
And the Wee Folk--'way in there--in there--
And the Kelpies--'way in there!
"Through Sleepy-Land" by James Whitcomb Riley

In news:

The kitten had a great time with a clew stolen out of my knitting basket.
Users can convert manual clew winches to electric operation with Thern Stage Equipment's Manual-to-Motorized Clew Hoist Conversion Kits.
The conversion kits facilitate full onsite conversion of Thern's CW-1100 series Clew Winches from manual operation to electric power without returning units to the factory.
Thern Stage Equipment's Manual -to-Motorized Clew Hoist Conversion Kits.
Users can convert manual clew winches to electric operation with Thern Stage Equipment's Manual -to-Motorized Clew Hoist Conversion Kits.
Manual-To- Motorized Clew Winch Conversion Kit By Thern Stage Equipment.
Alison Clews, a personal trainer at the Dubai-based Ignite Fitness and Wellness, demonstrates the final exercise in our eight-part weekly series of kettlebell workouts.