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 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 The Houston Roughnecks logo is a bit reminiscent of the old Houston Oilers logo with an oil derrick featured prominently. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "XFL unveils its Houston team: The Houston Roughnecks," 21 Aug. 2019 In contrast, at Rainbow Park Beach on Chicago’s South Side, Woodhouse used steel tubes and trellis-like beams to recall the marine derricks of the nearby the Port of Chicago. Blair Kamin,, "Column: Kings of the beach house: The little lakefront buildings of two Chicago architects show the way to design that enhances its environs.," 31 July 2019 He and Shawn Camp had visited this oil derrick museum and there was a windmill with a barb wire nest that some crows had made. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Rodney Crowell on dogs, ghosts, Texas and Ringo Starr," 13 Aug. 2019 As a dinghy approached, a newish Infiniti FX35 appeared high above the Magestic’s deck, tethered to the derrick with thick nylon straps at the ends of steel cables. Rowan Moore Gerety, Harper's magazine, "Downstream," 10 June 2019 This high-speed vantage provides the blurry view of bobbing derricks, fuel storage tanks and fast-food billboards that has defined the city for Californians and tourists traveling between the sunny coast and the Sierra. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "Bakersfield, once the butt of jokes, is booming. So are many other inland California cities.," 19 July 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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Last Updated

26 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Derrick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for derrick


How to pronounce derrick (audio)

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on derrick

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with derrick

Spanish Central: Translation of derrick

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

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