WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
bow•line  (bōlin, -līn′),USA pronunciation n. 
  1. Naval TermsAlso called  bowline knot′. a knot used to make a nonslipping loop on the end of a rope. See illus. under  knot. 
  2. Nautical, Naval Termsa rope made fast to the weather leech of a square sail, for keeping the sail as flat as possible when close-hauled.
  3. Nauticalon a bowline, sailing close-hauled.
  4. Nauticalon an easy bowline, close-hauled with sails well filled.
  • Middle English bouline, equivalent. to bou- (perh. boue bow2) + line line1 1275–1325

Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

bowline /ˈbəʊlɪn/ n
  1. a line for controlling the weather leech of a square sail when a vessel is close-hauled
  2. a knot used for securing a loop that will not slip at the end of a piece of rope
Etymology: 14th Century: probably from Middle Low German bōlīne, equivalent to bow³ + line1

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