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From Middle English clete, from Old English *clēat, clēot, 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.


  • enPR: klēt, IPA(key): /kliːt/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iːt


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.
    • 1995, Temple Grandin, Thinking in Pictures, page 6:
      I had learned that cattle willingly walk down a ramp that has cleats to provide secure, nonslip footing.
  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.)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


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.