AskDefine | Define rowlock

Dictionary Definition

rowlock 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, oarlock]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • (RP): rŏ'lək, /ˈrɒlək/, /"rQl@k/ or rŭ'lək, /ˈrʌlək/, /"rVl@k/
  • (US): rä'lək, /ˈrɑlək/, /"rAl@k/ or rŭ'lək, /ˈrʌlək/, /"rVl@k/


  1. (mostly British) a pivot attached to the gunwale of a boat that supports and guides an oar, and provides a fulcrum for rowing; an oarlock


support for an oar

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.
rowlock in German: Dolle (Rudern)
rowlock in French: Dame de nage
rowlock in Norwegian: Årefeste
rowlock in Norwegian Nynorsk: Keip
rowlock in Polish: Dulka
rowlock in Finnish: Hankain
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