harpoon

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harpoon

(härpo͞on`), weapon used for spearing whales and large fish. The early type was a flat triangular piece of metal with barbed edges and a socket for attaching a wooden handle, to the end of which a long rope was fastened. The modern weapon usually has only one barb or point, with a pivoted crosspiece to prevent its withdrawal. Harpoons are used to capture whales, which are then commonly killed by driving a lance into the vital parts. Harpoons may be thrown by hand or fired from guns. These guns are 4 to 5 ft (1.2 m–1.5 m) long, weigh about 75 lb (34 kg), and discharge a harpoon weighing about 100 lb (45.4 kg). Svend Foyn, a Norwegian, invented (c.1856) a harpoon with an explosive-filled tip that kills the whale. A later invention is a harpoon propelled by air pressure with a valve that opens as it strikes, thus admitting air to hasten the whale's death and keep it afloat.

Harpoon

 

a weapon used for hunting large marine animals (whales, walruses, and seals). Primitive, hand harpoons have been used since the end of the Paleolithic period. They consist of a shaft, a bone head, and a tip made of bone, stone, or metal, which is connected to the shaft with a strap. When an animal is hit, the tip separates from the shaft and remains in the animal’s body. The strap unwinds, and the floating shaft shows the hunter the direction of the animal.

Modern harpoons are metal arrows, consisting of a rod and a head with four opening claws. Screwed onto the head is a grenade, which explodes in the animal’s body. A harpoon is 1,530 mm long, and its weight, including the grenade, powder, and detonating fuze, is about 70 kg. When it is shot out of a harpoon gun, the harpoon carries a line with it, which is part of a cable of the whaling ship.

I. S. STUDENETSKAIA

harpoon

[här′pün]
(design engineering)
A barbed spear used to catch whales.

harpoon

a. a barbed missile attached to a long cord and hurled or fired from a gun when hunting whales, etc.
b. (as modifier): a harpoon gun
References in periodicals archive ?
Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask, Or, being armed with their long keen whaling spears, they were as a picked trio of lancers; even as the harpooneers were flingers of javelins.
So that, in real truth, the mates and harpooneers of the Pequod might more properly be said to have lived out of the cabin than in it.
The pagan harpooneer Tashtego drags down with him a sky-hawk uttering "archangelic shrieks"; the hawk had tried to tear away the ship's flag, as eagles tore at Prometheus, but the ship "like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it" (chapter 135, 468-69).
Thinking murder at hand, and smelling in the dark for the blood, he and all his armed mates and harpooneers rushed for the forecastle.
It was an admirable artistic exploit, rarely achieved by the best harpooneers of the present day; inasmuch as this Leviathan was slain at the very first dart.
Thus, then, one of our own noble stamp, even a whaleman, is the tutelary guardian of England; and by good rights, we harpooneers of Nantucket should be enrolled in the most noble order of St.
But this was very far North, be it remembered, where beer agrees well with the constitution; upon the Equator, in our southern fishery, beer would be apt to make the harpooneer sleepy at the mast-head and boozy in his boat; and grievous loss might ensue to Nantucket and New Bedford.
In the forecastle, the sailors had actually caulked and pitched their chests, and filled them; it was humorously added, that the cook had clapped a head on his largest boiler, and filled it; that the steward had plugged his spare coffee-pot and filled it; that the harpooneers had headed the sockets of their irons and filled them; that indeed everything was filled with sperm, except the captain's pantaloons pockets, and those he reserved to thrust his hands into, in self-complacent testimony of his entire satisfaction.
On the quarter-deck, the mates and harpooneers were dancing with the olive-hued girls who had eloped with them from the Polynesian Isles; while suspended in an ornamented boat, firmly secured aloft between the foremast and mainmast, three Long Island negroes, with glittering fiddle-bows of whale ivory, were presiding over the hilarious jig.
The vast swells of the omnipotent sea; the surging, hollow roar they made, as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like gigantic bowls in a boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended agony of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip into the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong, sled-like slide down its other side;--all these, with the cries of the headsmen and harpooneers, and the shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats with outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming brood;-- all this was thrilling.
As for eunoia, Ahab's praise of the harpooneers and Starbuck, and his offer of the doubloon and grog to the men, certainly suggest his benevolence, his good will toward his crew.