An illustration of an earing (Kemp, 1994, p. 279.)



  • Any small line that is used to fasten the upper corner of a sail to the yard.
  • The line passed through the cringles when reefing a square sail.


Probably earlier than the early 17th century. An earlier spelling was ear-ring. Of obscure origin, but possibly a nickname.


Has nothing to do with the jewelry on your ears. The outer turns of the earing are passed through the cringles and then beyond the lifts and rigging of the yardarm to stretch the head of sail tight along the yard. The inner turns are passed within the lifts and are meant to draw the sail up close to the yard.


Kemp, P. (1994). The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford University Press.

King, D., Hattendorf, J.B, & Estes, J.W. (1997). A Sea of Words: A Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O’Brian’s Seafaring Tales (2nd Ed.). Owl Books.

Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.