Cable, is either a large rope or a chain of iron links. Rope cables are made of the best hemp or of wire, twisted into a mass of great compactness and strength. The circumference of hemp rope varies from about 3 inches to 26. A certain number of yarns are laid up left-handed to form a strand; three strands laid up right-handed make a hawser, and three hawsers laid up left-handed form a cable. The strength of a hemp cable of 18 inches circumference is about 60 tons, and for other dimensions the strength is taken to vary according to the cube of the diameter. Wire rope has within recent years largely taken the place of hemp for tow-line and hawsers on board ship.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.