AskDefine | Define oarlock

Dictionary Definition

oarlock n : a holder attached to the gunwale of a boat that holds the oar in place and acts as a fulcrum for rowing [syn: peg, pin, thole, tholepin, rowlock]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A device attached to the gunwale of a rowboat to hold the oars in place while rowing.



Extensive Definition

A rowlock (British) or oarlock (US) is a device that attaches an oar to a boat. When a boat is rowed, the rowlock acts as a fulcrum, and, in doing so, the propulsive force that the rower exerts on the water with the oar is transferred to the boat by the thrust force exerted on the rowlock.
On ordinary rowing craft, the rowlocks are attached to the gunwales. In the sport of rowing, the rowlocks are attached to outriggers (often just called "riggers"), which project from the boat and provide better leverage. In sport rowing, the rowlocks are normally U-shaped and attached to a vertical pin which allows the rowlock to pivot around the pin during the rowing stroke. They additionally have a locking mechanism across the top of the "U" to prevent the oar from unintentionally popping out of the rowlock.
Originally rowlocks were two wooden posts that the shaft of the oar nestled between.


The Norwegian municipalities of Fosnes, Radøy and Tjøme have rowlocks in their coats-of-arms.
oarlock in German: Dolle (Rudern)
oarlock in French: Dame de nage
oarlock in Norwegian: Årefeste
oarlock in Norwegian Nynorsk: Keip
oarlock in Polish: Dulka
oarlock in Finnish: Hankain
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