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Corruption of earlier bittacle, from French habitacle. Or from obsolete Spanish or Portuguese bitácula, both from Late Latin habitāculum (little dwelling place).[1] Compare modern Spanish bitácora.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɪnəkəl/
  • (file)


binnacle (plural binnacles)

  1. (nautical) The wooden housing for a ship's compass, with its corrector magnets and illuminating arrangements. The log and other equipment for measuring the ship's speed are also stowed there.
    • 1811, The Tradesman, volume 7, page 420:
      The lamp, or candle, which lights the binnacle, is placed in the cabin, of course the expence of one light is saved, and all the inconveniences of blowing out in a squally night, and likewise the trouble of trimming the lamp, are avoided.
  2. The instrument cluster on a car or motorcycle.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “binnacle”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]