A circular block, usually of lignum vitae, though sometimes of elm, grooved around the circumference and pierced with three holes. In the days of the square-rigger they were used in pairs to secure the end of a shroud to the chain-plate. A lanyard was threaded through the holes in the deadeyes and by this means a purchase was created to set up the shroud taut.
The term ‘dead’ was used because, although deadeyes performed the function of triple blocks, they had no revolving sheaves. No doubt the original name of dead-man's-eye arose from the remarkable resemblance of these blocks with their three holes to a human skull.
Subjects: Maritime History — Warfare and Defence.