capstan (plural capstans)
- (nautical) A vertical cylindrical machine that revolves on a spindle, used to apply force to ropes, cables, etc. It is typically surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for levers used to turn it.
1951, W. I. B. Crealock, Vagabonding Under Sail, Hastings House (New York), page 211:
- We toiled over the capstan, and late in the afternoon slipped out of the harbour.
2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
- Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame. With more settled people, animals were harnessed to capstans or caged in treadmills to turn grist into meal.
- (electronics) A rotating spindle used to move recording tape through the mechanism of a tape recorder.
- capstan bar - one of the long bars or levers by which the capstan is worked; a handspike.
- pawl the capstan - to drop the pawls so that they will catch in the notches of the pawl ring, and prevent the capstan from turning back.
part of a tape recorder