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n.1.(Naut.) A thick piece of timber in the form of a knee, placed across the stem of a ship to strengthen the fore part and unite the bows on each side.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in periodicals archive ?
For the hulls of ships, for keels, futtock--and top-timbers, and any other kinds of futtocks, breasthooks, puercas, transoms, llaves, and rudders, all sorts of good timber can be found easily.
While the long, straight-grained white-oak planks are used for hull planking, the live oak's large branch sections and odd shapes are required for knee supports, breasthooks in the prow, and curving "compass timbers."
How it's used: Framing, "compass timbers" or curved beams, breasthooks in the cutwater area, pin rails, and fife rails.