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From Middle English clete, from Old English clēat, from Proto-Germanic *klautaz ‎(firm lump), from Proto-Indo-European *gelewd-, from *gley- ‎(to glue, stick together, form into a ball). Cognate with Dutch kloot ‎(ball; testicle) and German Kloß. See also clay and clout.



cleat ‎(plural cleats)

  1. A strip of wood or iron fastened on transversely to something in order to give strength, prevent warping, hold position, etc.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick, chapter 35
      [...] the people of that island erected lofty spars along the seacoast, to which the look-outs ascended by means of nailed cleats, something as fowls go upstairs in a hen-house.
  2. A continuous metal strip, or angled piece, used to secure metal components.
  3. (nautical) A device to quickly affix a line or rope, and from which it is also easy to release.
    Nautical cleat
  4. A protrusion on the bottom of a shoe meant for better traction. (See cleats.)


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cleat ‎(third-person singular simple present cleats, present participle cleating, simple past and past participle cleated)

  1. To strengthen with a cleat.
  2. (nautical) To tie off, affix, stopper a line or rope, especially to a cleat