- the upper part of the stern of a ship.
- a rail above the stern of a ship.
- a rail at the stern or above the transom of a vessel
- the upper part of the transom of a vessel, esp a sailing vessel, often ornately decorated
n.1814, alteration of tafferel “upper panel on the stern of a ship (often ornamented)” (1704), earlier, “a carved panel” (1620s), from Dutch tafereel “panel for painting or carving,” dissimulation from *tafeleel, diminutive of tafel “table,” from the general West Germanic borrowing of Latin tabula “slab, board” (see table (n.)). The word developed in Dutch from the custom of ornamenting the high, flat stern of old sailing ships; spelling and sense altered in English by influence of rail (n.).