AskDefine | Define capstan

Dictionary Definition

capstan n : a windlass rotated in a horizontal plane around a vertical axis; used on ships for weighing anchor or raising heavy sails

User Contributed Dictionary



cabestan, from cabestrante, cabrestante, from cabestrar to bind with a halter, from cabestrohalter, from capistrum halter, from capere to hold (see capacious); or perhaps the Spanish is from caper goat + -stans, present participle of stare to stand; confer chèvre she-goat, also a machine for raising heavy weights.


  1. 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.
  2. A rotating spindle used to move recording tape through the mechanism of a tape recorder.


vertical cleated drum or cylinder
  • Finnish: vintturi, ankkuripeli
  • French: cabestan
  • German: Spill
  • Italian: cabestano
  • Korean: 캡스턴
part of a tape recorder
  • German: Capstan
  • Korean: 캡스턴

Derived terms

  • 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.

See also

Extensive Definition

Capstan may refer to:

See also

Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1