wind·​lass | \ ˈwin(d)-ləs How to pronounce windlass (audio) \

Definition of windlass

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of various machines for hoisting or hauling: such as
a : a horizontal barrel supported on vertical posts and turned by a crank so that the hoisting rope is wound around the barrel
b : a steam or electric winch with horizontal or vertical shaft and two drums used to raise a ship's anchor


windlassed; windlassing; windlasses

Definition of windlass (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to hoist or haul with a windlass

Examples of windlass in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Artifacts found in the mine include shoes, clay pipes and a windlass—a type of winchthat would have been used to lift heavy objects. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 July 2022 Coghlan added that one of the items left behind was a windlass lifting device, which would normally have been taken away for reuse in other mines. Sana Noor Haq, CNN, 12 July 2022 This allows the leg to extend behind the body and activates the windlass mechanism in which the hallux pulls on the plantar fascia, creating tension. Outside Online, 5 Aug. 2019 It's called a windlass, and it's used to raise the anchors. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, 27 Mar. 2021 No lives were lost, and parts of the ship from several timbers to the anchor-hoisting windlass remain preserved under the Great Lake. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 June 2020 According to the museum, a large wooden windlass - a type of winch - that staff from Ludington State Park found a few years ago may also be from the same wreck. CBS News, 4 May 2020 Other artifacts that will help archaeologists further identify and date the shipwreck include ceramic dinnerware, glass bottles, stoneware jugs, an anchor, wire rope rigging, a windlass, and a ship's bell, reported NOAA. Marcy De Luna, Houston Chronicle, 30 July 2019 Most tourniquets are called windlass-style tourniquets. Kevin Dupzyk, Popular Mechanics, 16 Apr. 2019 See More

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

First Known Use of windlass


13th century, in the meaning defined above


1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for windlass


Middle English wyneles, wyndlas, alteration of wyndase, from Old French guindas, windas, from Old Norse vindāss, from vinda to wind (akin to Old High German wintan to wind) + āss pole; akin to Goth ans beam

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The first known use of windlass was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Windlass.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of windlass for Spanish Speakers


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