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Webster 1913 Edition


Capstan

Cap′stan

,
Noun.
[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.]
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.
[Sometimes spelt
Capstern
, but improperly.]
Capstan bar
,
one of the long bars or levers by which the capstan is worked; a handspike..
To pawl the capstan
,
to drop the pawls so that they will catch in the notches of the pawl ring, and prevent the capstan from turning back.
To rig the capstan
,
to prepare the for use, by putting the bars in the sockets.
To surge the capstan
,
to slack the tension of the rope or cable wound around it.

Webster 1828 Edition


Capstan

CAPSTAN

,
Noun.
A strong massy column of timber, formed like a truncated cone, and having its upper extremity pierced to receive bars or levers, for winding a rope round it, to raise great weights, or perform other extraordinary work, that requires a great power. It may be let down through the decks of a ship, and so fixed that the work is performed by a horizontal motion.

Definition 2022


capstan

capstan

English

A capstan on a sailing vessel.

Noun

capstan (plural capstans)

  1. (nautical) A vertical cylindrical machine that revolves on a spindle, used to apply force to ropes, cables, etc. It is typically surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for levers used to turn it.
    • 1951, W. I. B. Crealock, Vagabonding Under Sail, Hastings House (New York), page 211:
      We toiled over the capstan, and late in the afternoon slipped out of the harbour.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
  2. (electronics) A rotating spindle used to move recording tape through the mechanism of a tape recorder.

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