any of various windlasses, rotated in a horizontal plane by hand or machinery, for winding in ropes, cables, etc.
a rotating spindle or shaft, powered by an electric motor, that transports magnetic tape past the heads of a tape recorder at a constant speed.
Historical Examples

They then returned to the boat, let on all the steam, and began to wind up the cable on the capstan.
Life at Puget Sound: With Sketches of Travel in Washington Territory, British Columbia, Oregon and California Caroline C. Leighton

Then Captain Mayo heard the steady clanking of capstan pawls.
Blow The Man Down Holman Day

He did not speak to any of us, but clambered aft, towards the capstan, to which the Captain had lashed himself.
Tom Cringle’s Log Michael Scott

Suddenly the capstan went round an inch; then another and another.
The Three Midshipmen W.H.G. Kingston

Of course, place the men as near to the end of the capstan bar as convenient for work.
Scamping Tricks and Odd Knowledge John Newman

The hatchway was closed, and the order to man the capstan was given a third time.
Down the Rhine Oliver Optic

I ran to the capstan to heave with them, so that I, too, might sing.
Martin Hyde, The Duke’s Messenger John Masefield

Working at the windlass or capstan with more than usual exertion.
The Sailor’s Word-Book William Henry Smyth

“I hope not,” returned Billy, in a cheery voice, resuming his work of passing the warp down below as it came off the capstan.
The Young Trawler R.M. Ballantyne

The keeping the hove-in part of a cable or hawser clear of the capstan.
The Sailor’s Word-Book William Henry Smyth

a machine with a drum that rotates round a vertical spindle and is turned by a motor or lever, used for hauling in heavy ropes, etc
any similar device, such as the rotating shaft in a tape recorder that pulls the tape past the head

late 14c., from Old French cabestant, from Old Provençal cabestan, from capestre “pulley cord,” from Latin capistrum “halter,” from capere “to hold, take” (see capable).


Read Also:

  • Capstan-bar

    a long lever for turning a capstan by hand. Historical Examples Into these the bread was pressed by beating it to powder with a capstan-bar. Ocean’s Story; or Triumphs of Thirty Centuries Edward Rowland Madison Washington struck at him with a capstan-bar, and he fell dead at his feet. The Freedmen’s Book Lydia Maria Child […]

  • Capstan lathe

    noun a lathe for repetitive work, having a rotatable turret resembling a capstan to hold tools for successive operations Also called turret lathe

  • Capstan-table

    drum table.

  • Capsula

    capsula capsula cap·su·la (kāp’sə-lə, -syu-) n. pl. cap·su·lae (-lē’) A membranous structure, usually dense collagenous connective tissue, that envelops an organ, joint, or other part. An anatomical structure resembling a capsule or envelope. Historical Examples Stylus declinatus, Stigma subsimplex, capsula (per junior) siliquosa. Journals of Travels in Assam, Burma, Bhootan, Afghanistan and The William Griffith […]

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