Etymology
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spar (n.1)

early 14c., "rafter;" late 14c., "stout pole," from or cognate with Middle Low German or Middle Dutch sparre, from Proto-Germanic *sparron (source also of Old English *spere "spear, lance," Old Norse sperra "rafter, beam," German Sparren "spar, rafter"), from PIE root *sper- (1) "spear, pole" (see spear (n.1)). Nautical use, in reference to one used as a mast, yard, boom, etc., dates from 1630s. Also borrowed in Old French as esparre, which might be the direct source of the English word.

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perk (n.1)

"horizontal bar serving as a support for various purposes," late 14c., "rod, pole, perch for a hawk," a variant of perch (n.1) or from Medieval Latin perca, Old French perce, variant of perche.

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shinny (v.)

"to climb a rope, pole, tree-trunk, etc. by gripping with the arms and legs," by 1888, American English, from use of shins and ankles to do so; see shin (n.). The earlier verb was simply shin (1829). Related: Shinnied; shinnying.

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rod (n.)

Middle English rod, rodde, "a stick of wood," especially a straight cutting from a woody plant, stripped of twigs, and having a particular purpose" (walking stick, wand of office, instrument of punishment), from Old English rodd "a rod, pole," which is probably cognate with Old Norse rudda "club," from Proto-Germanic *rudd- "stick, club," from PIE *reudh- "to clear land." Other sources formerly consider it to correspond to the continental words under rood.

As a long, tapering elastic pole for fishing, from mid-15c. Figurative sense of "offshoot" (mid-15c.) led to Biblical meaning "scion, tribe." As an instrument of punishment, attested from mid-12c.; also used figuratively for "any sort of correction or punishment" (14c.). In mechanics, "any bar slender in proportion to its length" (1728).

As a unit of linear measure (5½ yards or 16½ feet, also called perch or pole) attested from late 14c., from the pole used to mark it off. As a measure of land area, "a square perch," from late 14c., the usual measure in brickwork. Meaning "light-sensitive cell in a retina" is by 1837, so-called for their shape. Slang meaning "penis" is recorded from 1902; that of "handgun, pistol, revolver" is by 1903.

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gauge (v.)

"ascertain by exact measurements," mid-15c., from Anglo-French gauge (mid-14c.), from Old North French gauger "standardize, calibrate, measure" (Old French jaugier), from gauge "gauging rod," a word of unknown origin. Perhaps from Frankish *galgo "rod, pole for measuring" or another Germanic source (compare Old Norse gelgja "pole, perch," Old High German galgo; see gallows). Related: Gauged; gauging. The figurative use is from 1580s. "The spelling variants gauge and gage have existed since the first recorded uses in Middle English, though in American English gage is found exclusively in technical uses" [Barnhart].

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poy (n.)

"prop, support, pole used to propel a boat," late 15c., a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Old French poi, poie, variants of pui, puie "a railing, balustrade, trellis." Poi-tre "frame used to stretch clothes" is attested in English from late 14c.

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slowpoke (n.)

also slow poke, 1848, American English from slow (adj.) + poke (n.3), the name of a device, like a yoke with a pole, attached to domestic animals such as pigs and sheep to keep them from escaping enclosures. Bartlett (1859) calls it "a woman's word."

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rafter (n.1)

"sloping timber of a roof," c. 1200, from Old English ræftras (West Saxon), reftras (Mercian), both plural, "a beam, pole, rafter of a building," related to Old Norse raptr "log," from Proto-Germanic *raf-tra-, from PIE *rap-tro-, from root *rep- "stake, beam."

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mast (n.1)

"long pole on a ship, secured as the lower end to the keel, to support the yards, sails, and rigging in general," Old English mæst, from Proto-Germanic *mastaz (source also of Old Norse mastr, Middle Dutch maste, Dutch, Danish mast, German Mast), from PIE *mazdo- "a pole, rod" (source also of Latin malus "mast," Old Irish matan "club," Irish maide "a stick," Old Church Slavonic mostu "bridge").

The single mast of an old ship was the boundary between the quarters of the officers and those of the crew, hence before the mast "serving as an ordinary seaman" in the title of Dana's book, etc.

In all large vessels the masts are composed of several lengths, called lower mast, topmast, and topgallantmast. The royalmast is now made in one piece with the topgallantmast. A mast consisting of a single length is called a pole-mast. In a full-rigged ship with three masts, each of three pieces, the masts are distinguished as the foremast, the mainmast, and the mizzenmast; and the pieces as the foremast (proper), foretopmast, foretopgallantmast, etc. In vessels with two masts, they are called the foremast and mainmast; in vessels with four masts, the aftermast is called the spanker-mast or jigger-mast. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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nadir (n.)

late 14c., in astronomy, "imaginary point of the celestial sphere vertically opposite to the zenith of the sun; the inferior pole of the horizon," from Medieval Latin nadir, from Arabic nazir "opposite to," in nazir as-samt, literally "opposite direction," from nazir "opposite" + as-samt "road, path" (see zenith). Transferred sense of "lowest point" of anything is recorded by 1793.

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