oakum


noun

  1. loose fiber obtained by untwisting and picking apart old ropes, used for caulking the seams of ships.

noun

  1. loose fibre obtained by unravelling old rope, used esp for caulking seams in wooden ships

n.“loose fiber obtained from taking apart old hemp ropes,” early 15c., from Old English acumba “tow, oakum, flax fibers separated by combing,” literally “what is combed out,” from Proto-Germanic *us-kambon (cf. Old High German achambi); first element cognate with Old English a- “away, out, off;” second element from stem of cemban “to comb,” from camb “a comb;” from PIE *gembh- “tooth, nail” (see comb (n.)).

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