Definition of windlass :
1. A machine for raising weights, consisting of a horizontal cylinder or roller moving on its axis, and turned by a crank, lever, or similar means, so as to wind up a rope or chain attached to the weight. In vessels the windlass is often used instead of the capstan for raising the anchor. It is usually set upon the forecastle, and is worked by hand or steam.
2. A winding and circuitous way; a roundabout course; a shift.
3. An apparatus resembling a winch or windlass, for bending the bow of an arblast, or crossbow.
4. To raise with, or as with, a windlass; to use a windlass.
5. To take a roundabout course; to work warily or by indirect means.
- I really think Hugh should have a windlass at the top and let people down by a rope. - "Prince Fortunatus", William Black.
- Though scarcely able to speak, he tenderly called her name, but she made no reply; like Iras and Charmian, she was exerting her whole strength at the windlass in the most passionate effort to raise him. - "The Complete Historical Romances of Georg Ebers", Georg Ebers.
- Mr. Jackson, he concluded, turning to his first officer, overhaul their dunnage, turn them to, and man the windlass. - ""Where Angels Fear to Tread" and Other Stories of the Sea", Morgan Robertson.