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
derrick was our Word of the Day on 05/15/2010. Hear the podcast!
Recent Examples of derrick from the Web
What lies beneath the attractive green pools are the leftover detritus of the quarry: Old cables, derricks, sheds, ladders–anything too difficult or expensive to pull out is left behind.
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.
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.
Origin and Etymology of derrick
obsolete derrick hangman, gallows, from Derick, name of 17th century English hangman
First Known Use: circa 1752See Words from the same year
DERRICK Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of derrick for English Language Learners
: 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
DERRICK Defined for Kids
Definition of derrick for Students
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
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up derrick? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).