- A thwartship spar on the mast of square-rigged vessels.
Probably earlier than the 15th century. From Anglo-Saxon, seglegerld, meaning sail yard.
The “yardarm” is generally the outer portion of the yard itself. Thankfully, people no longer have to suffer execution by being “hung from the yardarm.” The yard is what holds the sails of the ship and a crew will be required to go aloft to bend the sails. Depending on the configuration of the masts and the size of the vessel, many different yards may exist. A discussion of the many elements of the rigging is for someone who has actual knowledge of working on a square-rigged vessel (i.e. not me). Alternatively, read the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic, CT: Mystic Seaport Museum.