F. cabestan, from Sp. cabestrante, cabrestante, from cabestrar to bind with a halter, from cabestrohalter, from L. capistrum halter, from capere to hold (see capacious); or perhaps the Spanish is from L. caper goat + -stans, present participle of stare to stand; confer F. chÃ¨vre she-goat, also a machine for raising heavy weights.
capstan (plural: capstans)
- A vertical cleated drum or cylinder, revolving on an upright spindle, and surmounted by a drumhead with sockets for bars or levers. It is much used, especially on shipboard, for moving or raising heavy weights or exerting great power by traction upon a rope or cable, passing around the drum. It is operated either by steam power or by a number of men walking around the capstan, each pushing on the end of a lever fixed in its socket.
capstan bar - one of the long bars or levers by which the capstan is worked; a handspike.
pawl the capstan - to drop the pawls so that they will catch in the notches of the pawl ring, and prevent the capstan from turning back.
rig the capstan - to prepare the for use, by putting the bars in the sockets.
surge the capstan - to slack the tension of the rope or cable wound around it.