|Traditional four-log catamarans from Kerala|
(photo by K.Rayker)
Noun. Early 17th century.
[Tamil kaṭṭu-maram literally 'tied-wood'.]
1 A raft or flat of logs tied side by side with the longest in the middle;
a raft of two boats fastened side by side;
a boat with two hulls side by side. E17
2 Historical. A naval weapon consisting of a floating chest packed with gunpowder. E19
3 A quarrelsome woman. colloquial. M19
If you've never had the pleasure of being on a catamaran, it's a singularly luxurious and graceful experience; catamarans are lighter, faster and more stable than their monohulled cousins, and they look so refined too - monohulls are so very 16th century. Except the catamaran is much older than that of course - they've been developed independently by several cultures, including Dravidian people from around southern India, Polynesians and various groups throughout Oceania, and possibly even the Ancient Greeks. To modern Europe, the catamaran is a relatively recent innovation, and was met with some skepticism when it first started to appear. Despite its definite advantages, sailing a catamaran is apparently a little trickier to master than a monohulled sailboat, which is perhaps why it came to be used as a word for a 'quarrelsome woman' (boats are one of the few things in English that are arbitrarily assigned a gender, often being referred to in the feminine). Their design and use has developed considerably from simple one-man fishing boats - there are now catamaran ferries, research ships, luxury and pleasure boats, and even prototype military vessels. What's wonderful, however, is the ultimate simplicity of the catamaran design, reflected beautifully in its Tamil name
|This is the graceful, luxurious type cat I was talking about|
(photo by Joe Ross)
Do you own a catamaran?
Have you ever been on a catamaran?
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