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A short line attaching an upper corner of a sail to the yard.
[Perhaps from ear.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
(Nautical Terms) nautical a line fastened to a corner of a sail for reefing
[C17: from ear1 + -ing1 or perhaps ring1]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
a rope with a cringle, used for bending a corner of a sail to a yard, boom, or gaff or for reefing a sail.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.