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From Middle English merlin, from Middle Low German marling, from Middle Dutch marlijn (cord), from marlen (secure, fasten), frequentative of maren (to moor), from Proto-Germanic *mairōną (to moor, fasten to), from Proto-Indo-European *mer-.


marline (plural marlines)

  1. A light cord or rope used to bind the end of a larger rope, to prevent fraying.
    • 1749 (Sunday 26th May), John Newton's journal
      A young man, who has been the whole voyage out of irons, first on account of a large ulcer, and since for his seeming good behaviour, gave them a large marline spike down the gratings, but was happily seen by one of the people.
  2. Twine used similarly.

Derived terms[edit]



marline (third-person singular simple present marlines, present participle marlining, simple past and past participle marlined)

  1. (nautical) To wind marline around.
    Synonym: marl
    to marline a rope