The capstan on an old ship.
capstan definition by Webster's New World
- an apparatus, mainly on ships, around which cables or hawsers are wound for hoisting anchors, lifting weights, etc.: it consists of an upright, spool-shaped cylinder that is turned on an inner shafting by machinery or by hand
- a rotating spindle in a tape recorder mechanism that regulates the speed at which the tape is driven past the head
Origin: Middle English ; from Old ProvenÃ§al cabestan ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Classical Latin capistrum, halter, muzzle ; from capere, to take: see have
capstan definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- Nautical An apparatus used for hoisting weights, consisting of a vertical spool-shaped cylinder that is rotated manually or by machine and around which a cable is wound.
- A small cylindrical shaft used to drive magnetic tape at a constant speed in a tape recorder.
Origin: Middle English, from Norman French, from Old Provençal cabestan, from cabestre, noose, from Latin capistrum, halter, probably from capere, to seize; see kap- in Indo-European roots.
capstan - Computer Definition
On magnetic tape drives, a motorized cylinder that traps the tape against a free-wheeling roller and moves it at a regulated speed.