Used as a verb in sewing. To tack means to sew together with long, loose stitches. The purpose of the tacking is to hold two pieces of fabric together and stop them from moving while you use a sewing machine on them, the loose tacking stitches can then be easily unpicked. It is used especially in dressmaking, to hold something together while its tried on, the tacking is easy to undo and redo if the size is wrong.

Language: jargon: sailing

Tack Naut.

  1. The lower, forwardmost angle of a sail.
  2. The cringle, ring, becket, or other attachment fitting located there and used to attach the sail to the boat.
  3. The side of the vessel which is to windward, port or starboard or, when the wind is directly behind, the side opposite of the boom's position.
  1. To change tacks, from port to starboard or vice versa. Traditionally either by coming about or gybing but more commonly in modern usage exclusively the former.

In most modern sails, the tack consists of a pressed ring through the dacron fabric in the corner formed by the foot and luff of the sail. On mylar composite sails the tack is more usually a ring attached with many webbing straps (often made of kevlar) aligned with the tape reinforcements of the sail. The ring is commonly shackled to the boom near the gooseneck, or slipped on a tack hook, or lashed to the boom, lacing rail or gooseneck.

Determining on which tack a boat is sailing is quite easy; it is the same as the side of the boat the boom is not on. Knowing which tack is important in regards to the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea, Rule 12, which gives right of way to a vessel on the starboard tack over a vessel on the port tack. While this doesn't come up often in real life, racers are very likely to be shouting "STARBOARD!" at each other.

When altering course, it is very likely a sailboat will be changing from one tack to the other. Because this will involve the boom and sails moving from one side of the boat to the other, there is a safety protocol followed on most boats. When the helm needs to change tacks by pointing the bow into the wind and then falling off on the new tack, s/he will call out "Ready about?", inquiring if everyone is prepared/out of the way. Crew will pipe up "Ready!" in response. When the helm has heard from all crew, s/he will begin the course change and call out "Helm's alee!" Similarly, when changing tacks with a gybe the call is "Prepare to gybe?", "Ready!", and "Gybe-ho!" These calls and responses allow everyone aboard to avoid injury and to be prepared as the boat switches heeling from one side to the other.

  • Edwards, Fred; Sailing as a Second Language; International Marine Publishing Company; © 1988 Highmark Publishing Ltd.; ISBN 0-87742-965-0
  • Marino, Emiliano; The Sailmaker's Apprentice: A guide for the self-reliant sailor; International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; © 1994 International Marine; ISBN 0-07-157980-X
  • Rousmaniere, John; The Annapolis Book of Seamanship; Simon & Schuster; © 1983, 1989 John Rousmaniere; ISBN 0-671-67447-1

Tack (?), n. [From an old or dialectal form of F. tache. See Techy.]


A stain; a tache.


2. [Cf. L. tactus.]

A peculiar flavor or taint; as, a musty tack.

[Obs. or Colloq.]



© Webster 1913.

Tack, n. [OE. tak, takke, a fastening; akin to D. tak a branch, twig, G. zacke a twig, prong, spike, Dan. takke a tack, spike; cf. also Sw. tagg prickle, point, Icel. tag a willow twig, Ir. taca a peg, nail, fastening, Gael. tacaid, Armor. & Corn. tach; perhaps akin to E. take. Cf. Attach, Attack, Detach, Tag an end, Zigzag.]


A small, short, sharp-pointed nail, usually having a broad, flat head.


That which is attached; a supplement; an appendix. See Tack, v. t., 3.


Some tacks had been made to money bills in King Charles's time. Bp. Burnet.

3. Naut. (a)

A rope used to hold in place the foremost lower corners of the courses when the vessel is closehauled (see Illust. of Ship); also, a rope employed to pull the lower corner of a studding sail to the boom.


The part of a sail to which the tack is usually fastened; the foremost lower corner of fore-and-aft sails, as of schooners (see Illust. of Sail).


The direction of a vessel in regard to the trim of her sails; as, the starboard tack, or port tack; -- the former when she is closehauled with the wind on her starboard side; hence, the run of a vessel on one tack; also, a change of direction.

4. ScotsLaw

A contract by which the use of a thing is set, or let, for hire; a lease.



Confidence; reliance.

[Prov. Eng.]


Tack of a flag Naut., a line spliced into the eye at the foot of the hoist for securing the flag to the halyards. -- Tack pins Naut., belaying pins; -- also called jack pins. -- To haul the tacks aboard Naut., to set the courses. -- To hold tack, to last or hold out. Milton.


© Webster 1913.

Tack (?), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Tacked (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Tacking.] [Cf. OD. tacken to touch, take, seize, fix, akin to E. take. See Tack a small nail.]


To fasten or attach.

"In hopes of getting some commendam tacked to their sees."


And tacks the center to the sphere. Herbert.


Especially, to attach or secure in a slight or hasty manner, as by stitching or nailing; as, to tack together the sheets of a book; to tack one piece of cloth to another; to tack on a board or shingle; to tack one piece of metal to another by drops of solder.


In parliamentary usage, to add (a supplement) to a bill; to append; -- often with on or to.


4. Naut.

To change the direction of (a vessel) when sailing closehauled, by putting the helm alee and shifting the tacks and sails so that she will proceed to windward nearly at right angles to her former course.

⇒ In tacking, a vessel is brought to point at first directly to windward, and then so that the wind will blow against the other side.


© Webster 1913.

Tack, v. i. Naut.

To change the direction of a vessel by shifting the position of the helm and sails; also (as said of a vessel), to have her direction changed through the shifting of the helm and sails. See Tack, v. t., 4.

Monk, . . . when he wanted his ship to tack to larboard, moved the mirth of his crew by calling out, "Wheel to the left." Macaulay.


© Webster 1913.

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