\ ə-ˈlō How to pronounce alow (audio) \

Definition of alow

: below alow in the ship's hold

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. 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 "throughout" - similar to the more familiar "high and low."

First Known Use of alow

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for alow

Middle English, from a- entry 1 + low

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

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Cite this Entry

“Alow.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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