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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