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From Ancient Greek ἔμβολον (émbolon, wedge, plug).


embolon (plural embola)

  1. A blood clot or swelling, particularly one that blocks an artery; an embolus.
  2. (historical) A battering ram on a warship.
    • 1824, C[hristopher] Irving, A Catechism of Grecian Antiquities; being an Account of the Religion, Government, Judicial Proceedings, Military and Naval Affairs, Dress, Food, Baths, Exercises, Marriages, Funerals, Coins, Weights, Measures, &c. of the Greeks: To which is Prefixed, a Description of the Cities of Athens and Sparta. With Engraved Illustrations, 2nd American edition, New York, N.Y.: F. & R. Lockwood, No. 154 Broadway, book IV, page 93:
      The chief warlike engines used in the Grecian ships, were the Embolon, the Catastromata, and the Delphin. [] The Embolon was a beak of wood fortified with brass, which projected from the lower part of the prow, so as to pierce the enemy's ships under water.
  3. (historical) A military formation, usually shaped like a wedge.
    • 1781 November, “A System of Tactics, practical, theoretical and historical. Translated from the French of M. Joly de Maizeroy, by Thomas Mante, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. 13s. boards. Cadell.”, in The Critical Review: Or, Annals of Literature, volume 52, London: Printed for A. Hamilton, in Falcon-Court, Fleet-Street, pages 376–377:
      Xenophon, it is true, ſays, word for word, in his account of the battle of Mantinea, that "Epaminondas formed an embolon of infantry, which which he advanced to ſhock the enemy, as one galley does another with its beak." [] In this paſſage, I cannot think the word embolon means any more than a vast ſquadron of great depth; and what ſhould hinder our underſtanding it, when ſpoken of infantry, in the ſame ſenſe?
    • 2001, N[icholas] G[eoffrey] L[emprière] Hammond; F[rank] W[illiam] Walbank, A History of Macedonia, volume III (336–167 B.C.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, →ISBN, page 44:
      Suddenly Alexander formed the left front of the phalanx into a wedge (embolon) and charged the Dardanians on the nearest slopes.
  4. (archaic, rare) Anything wedge-shaped.
    • 1877, Pisanus Fraxi [pseudonym; Henry Spencer Ashbee], “Introduction”, in Index Librorum Prohibitoru[m]: Bio- Biblio- Icono- graphical and Critical Notes on Curious and Uncommon Books, London: Privately printed, OCLC 80461047, page xliv:
      The machine represented in the frontispiece to this work, was invented for Mrs. Berkley to flog gentlemen upon, in the spring of 1828. [] There is a print in Mrs. Berkley's memoirs, representing a man upon it quite naked. A woman is sitting in a chair exactly under it, with her bosom, belly, and bush exposed: she is manualizing his embolon [plug], whilst Mrs. Berkley is birching his posteriors.
    • 2000, Elena C. Partida, The Treasuries at Delphi [Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology and Literature, Pocket-book; 160], Jonsered, Sweden: Paul Åströms Förlag, OCLC 47688201, page 36:
      For the protection of the marble's fine texture, surfaces subject to weathering (e.g. antae) were covered in a coloured wash. Dove-tail clamps with an embolon bind the treasury's blocks; similar clamps without an embolon bind the ashlars of the stereobate.


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