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From Middle English windas, wyndas, wyndace, from Anglo-Norman windase, windeis and Old Northern French windas (compare Old French guindas, Medieval Latin windasius, windasa), from Old Norse vindáss (windlass, literally winding-pole), from vinda (to wind) + áss (pole). Compare Icelandic vindilass.



windlass (plural windlasses)

  1. Any of various forms of winch, in which a rope or cable is wound around a cylinder, used for lifting heavy weights
  2. A winding and circuitous way; a roundabout course.
  3. An apparatus resembling a winch or windlass, for bending the bow of an arblast, or crossbow.



windlass (third-person singular simple present windlasses, present participle windlassing, simple past and past participle windlassed)

  1. To raise with, or as if with, a windlass; to use a windlass.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of The Century to this entry?)
  2. To take a roundabout course; to work warily or by indirect means.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Hammond to this entry?)