Forecastle, also spelled fo'c's'le (pronEng|ˈfoʊksəl), originally meant the upper deck of a sailing ship, forward of the foremast. The syncope of the word is common among nautical terms due to the nature of their pronunciation during the age of sail by sailors with strong accents and varying language skills.


The forward part of a ship with the sailors' living quarters is also called the forecastle. Related to the latter meaning is the phrase "before the mast" which denotes anything related to ordinary sailors (as opposed to a ship's officers).

The term "forecastle" relates to medieval shipbuilding, where ships of war were usually equipped with a tall, multi-deck castle-like structure in the bows of the ship which served as a platform for archers to shoot down on enemy ships and could also be used as a defensive stronghold if the ship was boarded.

A similar but usually much larger structure was at the after end of the ship, often stretching all the way from the main mast to the stern. Having such tall upper works on the ship was detrimental to sailing performance. As cannons were introduced and gunfire replaced boarding as the primary means of naval combat during the 16th century, the medieval forecastle was no longer needed, and later ships such as the galleon had only a low, one-deck high forecastle.

In addition to crew's quarters, the forecastle may contain essential machinery such as the anchor windlass. On many modern US Naval ships (such as aircraft carriers), the forecastle is the location where boatswain will display their fancy knotwork such as coxcombing.

Some sailing ships and many modern (non-sail) ships have no forecastle as such at all but the name is still being used to indicate the foremost part of the upper deck (although often called the "foredeck") and for any crews quarters in the bow of the ship, even if below the main deck.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать реферат

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Forecastle — Fore cas tle (?; sailors say ?), n. (Naut.) (a) A short upper deck forward, formerly raised like a castle, to command an enemy s decks. (b) That part of the upper deck of a vessel forward of the foremast, or of the after part of the fore channels …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • forecastle — (n.) c.1400, earlier Anglo Fr. forechasteil (mid 14c.), from M.E. FORE (Cf. fore ) before + castel fortified tower, the short raised deck in the fore part of the ship used in warfare (see CASTLE (Cf. castle) (n.)). Spelling fo c sle reflects… …   Etymology dictionary

  • forecastle — see fo c sle …   Modern English usage

  • forecastle — (also fo c s le) ► NOUN ▪ the forward part of a ship below the deck, traditionally used as the crew s living quarters …   English terms dictionary

  • forecastle — [fōk′səl, fôr′kas΄əl] n. [ FORE + CASTLE: from the foremost of the two castlelike structures on the hull of a medieval vessel] 1. the upper deck of a ship in front of the foremast 2. the front part of a merchant ship, where the crew s quarters… …   English World dictionary

  • forecastle — UK [ˈfəʊks(ə)l] / US [ˈfoʊks(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms forecastle : singular forecastle plural forecastles the front part of a ship …   English dictionary

  • forecastle — [[t]fo͟ʊksl[/t]] forecastles also fo c sle N COUNT: usu the N in sing The forecastle is the part at the front of a ship where the sailors live …   English dictionary

  • forecastle — /ˈfoʊksəl / (say fohksuhl) noun 1. the forward part of a ship, comprising the bow and areas in its immediate vicinity. 2. the sailors quarters in the forward part of a merchant vessel. 3. Also, forecastle head. a short raised deck in the forepart …  

  • forecastle deck — noun : a partial deck above the main deck at the bow of a ship over a forecastle * * * Naut. a partial weather deck on top of a forecastle superstructure; topgallant forecastle. [1850 55] * * * forecastle deck or forecastle head, the small,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • forecastle head — Naut. 1. the extreme fore part of a forecastle superstructure. 2. the extreme fore part of the main weather deck of a vessel that has no forecastle superstructure. * * * forecastle deck or forecastle head, the small, raised deck behind the bow of …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”