AskDefine | Define ketch

Dictionary Definition

ketch n : a sailing vessel with two masts; the mizzen is forward of the rudderpost

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A fore and aft rigged sailing vessel with two masts, main and mizzen, the mizzen being stepped forward of the rudder post. compare yawl.



ketch (third-person singular simple present ketches, present participle ketching, simple past ketched, past participle ketched)
  1. To catch. - substandard spelling.
    • 1815 D. HUMPHREYS Yankey in England I. 21, I guess, he is trying to ketch mebut it won't du. I'm tu old a bird to be ketch'd with chaff.
    • 1865 DICKENS Mut. Fr. II. IV. xv. 287 Wot is it, lambs, as they ketches in seas, rivers, lakes, and ponds? a1883 [see KNUCK 2]. #*1911 E. WHARTON Ethan Frome ii. 60 You'll ketch your death. The fire's out long ago.
    • 1916 W. O. BRADLEY Stories & Speeches 18 You'll never ketch me hollerin' at no Republican gatherin'.
    • 1929 H. W. ODUM in A. Dundes Mother Wit (1973) 184 If so you gonna ketch hell. 1967 Atlantic Monthly Apr. 103/1 You heard about that joke a dollar down and a dollar when you ketch me?
    • 1968 S. STUCKEY in A. Chapman New Black Voices (1972) 445 Run, nigger, run, de patrollers will ketch you.


From Jack Ketch. A Hangman in the 17th Century.
  1. Rare. To hang.
    • 1681 T. FLATMAN Heraclitus Ridens No. 14 'Squire Ketch rejoices as much to hear of a new Vox, as an old Sexton does to hear of a new Delight. Ibid. No. 18 Well! If he has a mind to be Ketch'd, speed him say I. #*1840 Fraser's Mag. XXI. 210 Ignorant of many of the secrets of ketchcraft.
    • 1859 MATSELL Vocab. s.v. (Farmer), I'll ketch you; I'll hang you.

Extensive Definition

A ketch is a sailing craft with two masts: a main mast, and a shorter mizzen mast abaft (rearward of) the main mast. Both masts are rigged mainly fore-and-aft. From one to three jibs may be carried forward of the main mast when going to windward. If a ketch is not rigged for jibs it is called a cat ketch, sometimes called a periauger. On older, larger ketches the main mast may in addition carry one or more square rigged topsails. A ketch may also carry extra sails, see below.
The lowest fore-and-aft sail on the main mast is called the mainsail, while that on the mizzen is called the mizzen sail. These may be any type of fore-and-aft sail, in any combination. The Scots Zulu, for example, had a dipping lug main with a standing lug mizzen.
The ketch is popular among long distance cruisers as the additional sail allows for a better balance, and a smaller more easily handled mainsail for the same overall sail area. It also allows sailing on mizzen and jib only without introducing excessive lee helm, and in an emergency can be quite well steered without use of the rudder. The ketch is a popular rig in northern European waters where sudden increases in wind strength sometimes requires a rapid reefing: the mainsail can be dropped, reducing sail and leaving a balanced sail-plan with jib and mizzen set.
Running before the wind or reaching across the wind, a ketch may carry extra sails such as a spinnaker on the main mast, and a spinnaker or (mizzen staysail) on the mizzen mast.

Similar rigs

The ketch rig is often confused with a yawl. The difference is that the ketch has her mizzen mast forward of the rudder post or waterline thus having more sail area, which contributes significant forward propulsion, whereas the mizzen on a yawl is aft of the rudder post and is used primarily to balance the sail plan (and as a riding sail while at anchor). This is often a matter of intent rather than a physical difference.
The ketch rig can be distinguished from the similar two masted schooner rig by the shorter aftermost mast on the ketch. A schooner has the shorter mast forward. In the case where both masts are approximately the same height, the rig with the larger sail forward is usually called a ketch, while the rig with the larger sail aft is a schooner.

See also

ketch in Bosnian: Keč (brod)
ketch in German: Ketsch (Schiff)
ketch in French: Ketch
ketch in Hungarian: Ketch
ketch in Japanese: ケッチ
ketch in Norwegian: Ketch
ketch in Polish: Kecz
ketch in Russian: Кеч
ketch in Serbo-Croatian: Keč (brod)
ketch in Finnish: Kaljuutti
ketch in Swedish: Ketch
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