Definition of clew in English:


Syllabification: clew
Pronunciation: /klo͞o


1 Sailing The lower or after corner of a sail.
More example sentences
  • I started to give the outhaul a good yank to get the foot of the main tight and the damned thing came off in my hand along with a piece of the sail containing the clew.
  • Hullo is a rectangular shaped flat wooden plank seater with its four corners fixed to the roof by means of metal clews which can swing.
  • A clew of the sail is fixed to the slide allowing the sail to be orientated without a need for a boom.
2 (clews) The cords by which a hammock is suspended.
More example sentences
  • Tie the clew down to the boom using a reef knot.
  • A good but currently illegal idea you can use to keep tension in the outhaul lines is to tie the clew inhaul shockcord between the clew cringle and the block.
2.1 (clew) A ball of thread (used especially with reference to the thread supposedly used by Theseus to mark his way out of the Cretan labyrinth).
More example sentences
  • A clew of sugán rope or ceirtlin súgán in traditional style was made of bent grass by Peter Shevlin of Belmullet.
  • If we observe this clew of wool from, say a kilometre distance, it is just a spot - zero dimension.
  • The clever man took a clew of rope and suspended it by the door of entry so that it could serve as a guide to all who entered or came out.
3 archaic variant of clue.
More example sentences
  • To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we believe, the slightest clew.
  • In searching for evidence of the presence of the murderer, not a clew of any kind could be found.


[with object] (clew a sail up) Back to top  
1Haul up the clews of a sail to the yard or into the mast ready for furling.
More example sentences
  • It is mostly the way to man the clew-lines and the bunt-lines, ease off the lee-sheet and clew it up.
  • If you intend to set them again after the topsail is reefed, clew the sail up.
  • And your Arthur, I mind, was one of the four men to go aloft to clew it up.
1.1 (clew a sail down) Lower an upper square sail by hauling down on the clew lines while slacking away on the halyard.
More example sentences
  • Then, by these, brace in the yard and clew it down.
  • Sailors clew down and tied the cargo and themselves with ropes to the ship.


Old English cliwen, cleowen (denoting a rounded mass, also a ball of thread), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kluwen. All senses are also recorded for the form clue.

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Word of the day retroflex
Pronunciation: ˈrɛtrə(ʊ)flɛks
turned backwards