Monkey fist - Monkey Paw

GLL guy1656 at OPUSNET.COM
Sun Dec 17 22:14:16 UTC 2006

There is a knot known as a monkey-fist (and sometimes a monkey paw.) It
creates a small, somewhat cube-shaped concentrated mass to weight the end of
a rope so that it can be thrown so as to cause the rope to pay out, such as a
need to lob it over a boom or spar, or pass a line from ship to ship, and
possibly to self-wind around a distant object in the manner of a bolo.

Perhaps its use as a verb below would mean a procedure of how to gather fabric
of a sail split by wind force in preparation for removing and replacing it,
or it could be a jury-rig which would gather or reposition part of the torn
fabric in some way to continue collecting wind force.

I don't think it has anything to do with seaming or finishing the edges or the
clews of a sail.

Any other hints?


: OED lacks this, as does HDAS because I couldn't find an American ex.
:   1832 Basil Hall _Fragments of Voyages and Travels_ (Series 2) II 192: The
: to the proper points, "monkey paw" the split sails, clear the
: ropes,...and in a very few moments reduce the whole disaster to the
: dimensions of a common occurrence.
:   Hall (1788-1844) became a prominent British travel writer after his
: retirement from the Navy in 1824.
:   The redoubtable scholar-sailor-scientist-numismatist Adm. William H.
: Smyth omits "monkey-paw" from the _Sailor's Word-Book_ (1867), but does
: list
:   "MONK'S SEAM. That made after sewing the edges of sails together, one
: over the other, by stitching through the centre of the seam."
:   JL

The American Dialect Society -

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