der·​rick | \ ˈder-ik How to pronounce derrick (audio) , ˈde-rik \

Definition of derrick

1 : a hoisting apparatus employing a tackle rigged at the end of a beam
2 : a framework or tower over a deep drill hole (as of an oil well) for supporting boring tackle or for hoisting and lowering

Illustration of derrick

Illustration of derrick

derrick 2

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Did You Know?

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, London was the home of a notorious executioner named Derick. Among those he beheaded was the Earl of Essex, Robert Devereux, who according to a street ballad of the time had once saved the life of the ungrateful executioner. While members of the nobility were accorded the courtesy of beheading, it was the lot of commoners to be hanged, and those sent to face the rope at the hands of the executioner Derick nicknamed the gallows at Tyburn after him. Throughout the 17th century, "derick" was used as a name for both hangman and gallows. After the days of public hangings, the word derrick was adopted as a name for a number of less ominous frameworks or towers.

Examples of derrick in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The historic unearthing brought thousands of oil workers to the Lone Star State as derricks popped up throughout East Texas – and changed the city of Houston into a petroleum metropolis. Matt Levin, Houston Chronicle, "Historical photos show life during the oil boom in Texas," 24 Apr. 2020 The population had managed to hang on even as much of its habitat was razed to make room for pineapple plantations, a missile silo, oil derricks and luxury condos. Carrie Arnold, Scientific American, "Can We Save the Woodrat without Slaughtering Cats?," 29 Mar. 2020 No image captures the intersection of fire and modern industry better than a burning oil derrick’s column of flame. Vince Guerrieri, Popular Mechanics, "Why Fire Is the Greatest Tool of All Time," 17 Feb. 2020 Roughly 16 miles from Texas A&M University, the property features eight ponds, a 7-acre fishing lake, an equestrian barn, sports, court, putting green and a pool with an oil derrick. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, "Big real estate in small Texas towns," 28 Jan. 2020 Atamanuik’s Trump said before adding an oil derrick to Washington’s head and making Teddy Roosevelt’s mustache a landing pad for the Space Force. Patrick Shanley, Billboard, "Jimmy Kimmel Joins Josh Gad, Aloe Blacc and Leon Bridges to Celebrate 'Halftime' of Trump's Presidency," 22 Jan. 2019 Los Angeles Magazine detailed some of the more creative efforts to hide not just wells, but towering derricks. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Colorado homes near oil wells face lower values, new study finds," 8 Dec. 2019 The lines from the derrick were attached to the center of the spire to keep it straight. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 The travelling block hangs beside drill pipes on the derrick of a drill rig during oil drilling operations by Targin JSC, a unit of Sistema PJSFC, in an oilfield operated by Bashneft PAO near Ufa, Russia, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Taylor Telford, Washington Post, "Oil prices plunge on report Saudi oil production will be restored sooner than expected," 17 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'derrick.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of derrick

circa 1752, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for derrick

obsolete derrick hangman, gallows, from Derick, name of 17th century English hangman

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Time Traveler for derrick

Time Traveler

The first known use of derrick was circa 1752

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Cite this Entry

“Derrick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for derrick



English Language Learners Definition of derrick

: a tall machine with a long part like an arm that is used to move or lift heavy things especially on ships
: a tall tower that is built over an oil well and used to support and guide the tool that is used to dig the hole and get oil out of the ground


der·​rick | \ ˈder-ik How to pronounce derrick (audio) \

Kids Definition of derrick

1 : a machine for moving or lifting heavy weights by means of a long arm fitted with ropes and pulleys
2 : a framework or tower over an oil well used to support machinery

More from Merriam-Webster on derrick

Nglish: Translation of derrick for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about derrick

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