• WordNet 3.6
    • n windlass lifting device consisting of a horizontal cylinder turned by a crank on which a cable or rope winds
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Windlass A machine for raising weights, consisting of a horizontal cylinder or roller moving on its axis, and turned by a crank, lever, or similar means, so as to wind up a rope or chain attached to the weight. In vessels the windlass is often used instead of the capstan for raising the anchor. It is usually set upon the forecastle, and is worked by hand or steam.
    • n Windlass A winding and circuitous way; a roundabout course; a shift.
    • Windlass An apparatus resembling a winch or windlass, for bending the bow of an arblast, or crossbow.
    • v. t. & i Windlass To raise with, or as with, a windlass; to use a windlass.
    • v. i Windlass To take a roundabout course; to work warily or by indirect means.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n windlass A hand or power machine for drawing a package of staves together to form a barrel.
    • n windlass A winding or turning; a circuitous course; a circuit.
    • n windlass Any indirect, artful course; circumvention; art and contrivance; subtleties.
    • windlass To take a circuitous path; fetch a compass.
    • windlass To adopt a circuitous, artful, or cunning course; use stratagem; act indirectly or warily.
    • windlass To bend; turn about; bewilder.
    • n windlass A modification of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights, etc. One kind of windlass is the winch used for raising water from wells, etc., which has an axle turned by a crank, and a rope or chain for raising the weight by being wound round the axle. A simple form of windlass, much used in ships for raising the anchors or obtaining a purchase on other occasions, consists of strong beam of wood placed horizontally, and supported at its ends by iron spindles which turn in collars or bushes inserted in what are termed the windlass-bitts. This large axle is pierced with holes directed toward its center, in which long levers or handspikes are inserted for turning it round when the anchor is to be weighed or any purchase is required. It is furnished with pawls to prevent it from turning backward when the pressure on the handspikes is intermitted. Different arrangements of gearing are applied to a windlass to exert increased power, and steam-windlasses, in which a small steamengine is made to heave the windlass round, have come largely into use. Compare capstan (with cut), and cut under winch.
    • n windlass A handle by which anything is turned; specifically, a winch-like contrivance for bending the arbalist or crossbow. See crossbow.
    • windlass To use a windlass; raise something as by a windlass.
    • windlass To hoist or haul by means of a windlass.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Windlass wind′las a modification of the wheel and axle, used for raising weights, consisting of a revolving cylinder
    • v.i Windlass to use a windlass
    • v.t Windlass to hoist by means of such
    • n Windlass wind′las (Shak.) indirect, crafty action
    • v.i Windlass to take a round-about course
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. windelas, windas, Icel. vindilāss, vindās, fr. vinda, to wind + āss, a pole; cf. Goth. ans, a beam. See Wind to turn


In literature:

He reached the windlass, and clutched it, as a sea that took him to the waist frothed in over the weather rail.
"Masters of the Wheat-Lands" by Harold Bindloss
Jake threw away his cigarette and took out another when the whistle blew and the windlass began to clank.
"Brandon of the Engineers" by Harold Bindloss
Once the windlass was fastened to the bank by means of ice anchors, the task of bringing down the balloon was a matter of moments.
"Panther Eye" by Roy J. Snell
Wyndham leapt to the windlass.
"The Hero of Garside School" by J. Harwood Panting
From windlass to wheel our decks presented a scene of wild excitement.
"The Iron Pirate" by Max Pemberton
Ahead was the well, its windlass of hard teak charred but otherwise uninjured.
"Wilmshurst of the Frontier Force" by Percy F. Westerman
It seems to me that there ought to be a windlass to draw her up.
"Athelstane Ford" by Allen Upward
After unloading, the raft was drawn back, by operation of the windlass on the opposite shore, where it took on another load.
"Crossing the Plains, Days of '57" by William Audley Maxwell
Lashing his victim's arm to a sharp sword tied to the windlass, he knocked the unfortunate Lanoix upon the deck with a hand-spike.
"Famous Privateersmen and Adventurers of the Sea" by Charles H. L. Johnston
At an altitude of two thousand feet the observer 'phoned down to the men at the windlass to stop.
"With Haig on the Somme" by D. H. Parry

In poetry:

North! We are sailing North,
The song at the windlass is done.
The slim, still palms, astern,
Are black ‘gainst the orange sun.
"Sailing North Off Pernambuco" by Theodore Goodridge Roberts
But heroic Jenny was not one of the fainting sort,
For immediately to the mouth of the mine she did resort,
And she called loudly for help, the noble lass,
And her cry was answered by voices above at the windlass.
"Jenny Carrister, The Heroine of Lucknow-Mine" by William Topaz McGonagall
Around the windlass on the forecastle some dozen poor wretches clung,
And with despair and grief their weakly hearts were rung
As the merciless sea broke o'er them every moment;
But God in His mercy to them Grace Darling sent.
"Grace Darling or "The Wreck of the Forfarshire"" by William Topaz McGonagall
Then the man replied, I hope there's no danger, Jenny, my lass,
But whatsoever God has ordained will come to pass;
And just as he said so the windlass handle swung round,
And struck him on the forehead, and he fell to the ground.
"Jenny Carrister, The Heroine of Lucknow-Mine" by William Topaz McGonagall
But it's heave and break her out . . . and the best tune of all
Is the rattle of the windlass, the clicking of the pawl,
And the steady wind a-blowing, yes, blowing off the shore,
From the white smiling city that I would see no more.
"Sailor's Farewell" by Cicely Fox Smith
So there were plenty to volunteer their services below,
And the rope was attached to the windlass, and down they did go,
And Jack Allingford and Jenny were raised to the top,
While Jenny, noble soul, with exhaustion was like to drop.
"Jenny Carrister, The Heroine of Lucknow-Mine" by William Topaz McGonagall

In news:

Using an anchor ball can help save your back without the complexity of a windlass.
Having a windlass beats weighing anchor with your back by a measured mile.
Ferry Aurora's windlass motor being repaired.
Aside from outright mechanical failure, the most common problems encountered with anchor windlasses are due to their placement.
The loads placed on windlasses are often significant, so the machinery needs to be securely through-bolted to the deck or anchor locker using the largest bolts that fit the mounting holes.
A horizontal windlass is so named because the electric motor and gypsy spindle are configured horizontally .
The absolutely critical, iron-clad rule is to not attempt to work in any way with the line, or anchor rode, on the loaded side of the winch or windlass while the winch or windlass is operating .
A vertical windlass has a gypsy spindle that is configured vertically .
With just the gypsy above deck, a vertical windlass is sleek in appearance, and that helps preserve the lines of a boat.