Friday, March 25, 2016

Word of the day: thwart

The word of the day is thwart:


  1. a seat across a boat, especially one used by a rower.
  2. a transverse member spreading the gunwales of a canoe or the like.
c.1200, from O.N. þvert "across," originally neut. of thverr (adj.) "transverse, across," cognate with O.E. þweorh "transverse, perverse, angry, cross," from P.Gmc. *thwerkhaz (cf. M.Du. dwers, Du. dwars "cross-grained, contrary," O.H.G. twerh, Ger. quer, Goth. þwairhs "angry"), altered (by influence of *thwer- "to turn") from *therkh-, from PIE *twork-/*twerk- "twist" (cf. L. torquere "to twist," Skt. tarkuh "spindle," O.C.S. traku "band, girdle," O.H.G. drahsil "turner," Ger. drechseln "to turn on a lathe"). The verb meaning "oppose, hinder" is mid-13c., from the adv. and prep.


"Melville's whaleboat came closest to disaster.  At one point, wrote Danenhower, 'a heavy green sea swept over the whole port side and filled her to the thwarts; she staggered and commenced to settle, but every man with a baler in hand quickly relieved her, and she floated again.'"

 - Hampton Sides, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

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