clew

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clew / kloō/ • n. 1. the lower or after corner of a sail. 2. (clews) Naut. the cords by which a hammock is suspended. ∎  (clew) a ball of thread (used esp. with reference to the thread supposedly used by Theseus to mark his way out of the Cretan labyrinth). 3. archaic variant of clue. • v. [tr.] (clew a sail up) Sailing haul up the clews of a sail to the yard or into the mast ready for furling. ∎  (clew a sail down) lower an upper square sail by hauling down on the clew lines while slacking away on the halyard.

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clew (arch.) ball, esp. of thread OE.; (naut.) corner of a sail to which tacks and sheets are made fast XVI. OE. cliwen, cleowen = MLG., Du. kluwen, f. base of OHG. kliuwi, kliuwa, MHG. kliuwel(īn); prob. ult. rel. to CLAW. See CLUE.

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Clew

a globe, ball, or spherical bunch; a tangled cluster of things; a ball of thread, etc.

Examples: clew of bees, 1616; of cord; of thread; of yarn; of worms, 1669.