• WordNet 3.6
    • n rowlock a holder attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds the oar in place and acts as a fulcrum for rowing
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Rowlock (Naut) A contrivance or arrangement serving as a fulcrum for an oar in rowing. It consists sometimes of a notch in the gunwale of a boat, sometimes of a pair of pins between which the oar rests on the edge of the gunwale, sometimes of a single pin passing through the oar, or of a metal fork or stirrup pivoted in the gunwale and suporting the oar; same as oarlock.
    • Rowlock One of the rings of masonry included in an arch having more than one ring.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n rowlock A contrivance on a boat's gunwale in or on which the oar rests and swings freely in rowing. The principal kinds of rowlocks are – a notch in the gunwale (as in the first illustration), which may be either square or rounded, and is usually lined with metal; two short pegs, called thole-pins, projecting from the gunwale, between which the oar is placed; a stirrup-shaped swivel of metal pivoted in the gunwale (as in the second illustration), or on an outrigger. Sometimes a single pin set into the gunwale is used instead of a rowlock, the oar having a hole through which the pin passes, or vice versa, or being fastened to it by means of a thong or gromet.
    • rowlock In architecture, characterized by having its voussoirs in concentric rings, one closely adjusted to another. The rowlock arch of brick is one in which each ring of brick voussoirs is only the width of the brick, or about four inches, in depth.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Rowlock rō′lok or rul′uk a contrivance on the wale of a boat, to rest the oar in rowing
    • Rowlock Also Roll′ock, Rull′ock
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
For oarlock,; AS. ☞rloc, where the second part is skin to G. loch, a hole, E. lock, a fastening. See Oar, and Lock


In literature:

They could hear the oars in the rowlocks and the shouts of the rowers.
"A Master Of Craft" by W. W. Jacobs
I touched that copper rowlock, and it quite burned my band.
"Jack at Sea" by George Manville Fenn
Then, without any command, you will ship the oar; in other words, drop the loom into the rowlock.
"The Boat Club" by Oliver Optic
Bobtail saw the boat, and heard the rapid thumps of the oars in the rowlocks.
"Little Bobtail" by Oliver Optic
Crutches are used instead of rowlocks, and also on the sides of large boats to support the oars and spars.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
Kathleen could row, and she put the oars in the rowlocks, and sat down to scull.
"Grey Town" by Gerald Baldwin
The tholes of the oars were wrapped in cloth to deaden their rattle in the rowlocks.
"The Naval History of the United States" by Willis J. Abbot
She now took the other oar from the rowlock, and was about to rise, when the bishop shouted to her.
"The Associate Hermits" by Frank R. Stockton
As Constans paddled out into the stream he heard the steady thumping of oars in rowlock.
"The Doomsman" by Van Tassel Sutphen
Cloth was wound round our oars where they rested in the rowlocks.
"Ben Comee" by M. J. (Michael Joseph) Canavan
I was hunting for it when the sound of rowlocks came to my ears.
"Tales of the Fish Patrol" by Jack London
The night was so still that I could hear distinctly the rattle of oars in rowlocks.
"The Red Hand of Ulster" by George A. Birmingham
Say, what did you do with the rowlocks?
"Frontier Boys in the South Seas" by Wyn Roosevelt
He jumped in, dropped upon the middle thwart, and fitted the oars in the rowlocks.
"The Destroying Angel" by Louis Joseph Vance
It was that dull kind of a regular sound that comes from oars working in rowlocks when it's a still night.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
The due amount of rope is then paid out, and the rope hitched to a bench or rowlock-pin.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 8, Slice 7" by Various
The rowlocks, of which there are thirty, prove that the vessel was intended to be rowed in either direction.
"Ancient and Modern Ships." by George C. V. Holmes
Again a signal, and they start for the shore, the oars in the rowlocks beating time to a sort of sea-march.
"Harper's Round Table, October 1, 1895" by Various
She could hear the measured plash of the oars; the rhythmic rattle of the rowlocks.
"Through the Postern Gate" by Florence L. Barclay
There was no spare mast, one faulty rowlock, a chart and telescope.
"The Secrets of a Kuttite" by Edward O. Mousley