(obsolete, rare) A cry of despair.
*1596 , (Edmund Spenser), The Faerie Queene , V.6:
*:Yet did she not lament with loude alew , / As women wont, but with deepe sighes and singults few.
(obsolete) A roughly spherical mass or body.
* c. 1600 , , tr. Richard Surflet, Maison Rustique, or, The Countrie Farme :
* 1796 , , The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam :
- If the whole troupe be diuided into many clewes , or round bunches, you need not then doubt but that there are many kings.
(archaic) A ball of thread or yarn.
* c. 1604-5 , , All's Well That Ends Well , Act 1, Scene 3:
- Both these creatures, by forming themselves in a clew , have often more the appearance of excrescences in the bark, than that of animals.
* 1831 , :
- If it be ?o, you have wound a goodly clew :
If it be not, for?wear't: howe'er, I charge thee,
* 1889 , ":
- A rare, precious, and never interrupted race of philosophers to whom wisdom, like another Ariadne, seems to have given a clew of thread which they have been walking along unwinding since the beginning of the world, through the labyrinth of human affairs.
* 1962 , , Pale Fire :
- The Fairy Paribanou was at that time very hard at work, and, as she had several clews' of thread by her, she took up one, and, presenting it to Prince Ahmed, said: "First take this ' clew of thread...
Yarn or thread as used to guide one's way through a maze or labyrinth; a guide, a clue.
- on one side of her lay a pair of carpet slippers and on the other a ball of red wool, the leading filament of which she would tug at every now and then with the immemorial elbow jerk of a Zemblan knitter to give a turn to her yarn clew and slacken the thread.
* 1766 , , The Sermons of Mr. Yorick :
- Therto have I a remedie in my thoght,
That, by a clewe of twyne, as he hath goon,
The same wey he may returne anoon,
Folwing alwey the threed, as he hath come.
* 1841 , , The Murders in the Rue Morgue :
- With this clew , let us endeavour to unravel this character of Herod as here given.
* 1870 , , History of the Norman Conquest :
- To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we believe, the slightest clew .
* 1917 , :
- We may here have lighted on the clew to the great puzzle.
* 1923 , :
- They had followed immediately behind him, thinking it barely possible that his actions might prove a clew to my whereabouts...
* 1926 , Robertus Love, The Rise and Fall of Jesse James , University of Nebraska, 1990:
- And I brought the only clew to be found.
(nautical) The lower corner(s) of a sail to which a sheet is attached for trimming the sail (adjusting its position relative to the wind); the metal loop or cringle in the corner of the sail, to which the sheet is attached. On a triangular sail, the clew is the trailing corner relative to the wind direction.
* 1858 , Walter Mitchell,
- Not often did Jesse James leave a clew to his identity when he galloped away from a crime of violence, back into the mysterious Nowhere whence he came.
* 1858 , The Atlantic Monthly , "":
- 'Mid the rattle of blocks and the tramp of the crew,
Hisses the rain of the rushing squall;
The sails are aback from clew' to ' clew ,
And now is the moment for "MAINSAIL, HAUL!"
* 1894 , :
- "Clew'" is Saxon; "garnet" (from granato, a fruit) is Italian,—that is, the garnet- or pomegranate-shaped block fastened to the ' clew or corner of the courses, and hence the rope running through the block.
* 1901 , :
- I went over and asked him to let down the clews or corners of the mainsail, which had been drawn up in order to lessen the useless flapping of the sail against the rigging.
(in the plural) The sheets so attached to a sail.
* 1913 ,
- "Run aft, Haldane, and you too, Spokeshave. Loosen the bunt of the mizzen-trysail and haul at the clew . That’ll bring her up to the wind fast enough, if the sail only stands it!"
(nautical, in the plural) The cords suspending a hammock.
* 2000 , Ralph W Danklefsen, The Navy I Remember , Xlibris 2000, p. 21:
- The canvas running up in a proud sweep,
Wind-wrinkled at the clews , and white like lint,
* 1864 , Andrew Forrester, The Female Detective :
- He taught us how to attach the clews to the ends of the hammock and then lash it between jack stays.
* 1910 , "Duck Eats Yeast," The Yakima Herald :
- Now, the fact is, I had started because I thought I saw the end of a good clew .
- Telltale marks around the pan of yeast gave him a clew to the trouble.
- The clew , without which it was perilous to enter the vast and intricate maze of Continental politics, was in his hands.
to roll into a ball
(nautical) (transitive and intransitive) to raise the lower corner(s) of (a sail)