Etymology
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gunwale (n.)

"uppermost edge of a ship's side," mid-15c., gonne walle, from gun (n.) + wale "plank" (see wale). Originally a platform on the deck of a ship to support the mounted guns.

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Definitions of gunwale

gunwale (n.)
wale at the top of the side of boat; topmost planking of a wooden vessel;
Synonyms: gunnel / gun rest
From wordnet.princeton.edu