: below
alow in the ship's hold

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Alow Has Nautical Origins

In nautical use, alow means "in or to a lower part of the vessel," indicating the deck or the area of the rigging closest to the deck, or below-deck as opposed to above-deck. The opposite of alow in this sense is aloft, used to indicate a higher part of the vessel especially around the mastheads or the higher rigging. Yet, while we are still likely to encounter aloft, in both nautical and non-nautical use, alow has become something of a rarity. When encountered, it is usually found in the combination "alow and aloft." This phrase literally refers to the upper and lower parts of a ship or its rigging, but it can also be used to mean "completely" or "thoroughly."

Word History


Middle English, from a- entry 1 + low

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alow was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near alow

Cite this Entry

“Alow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alow. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

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