An old expression for a sailing ship with very high masts and narrow sails. Such a rig enabled a ship to point higher to the wind, but it was apt to wring, or twist, a ship's side because of the relatively narrow base for the shrouds supporting the masts. North European ships—German, Dutch, and Scandinavian—were usually very taunt during the sailing era; British ships used shorter masts and broader sails, and in general enjoyed a longer life, being subject to less strain through wringing. See also all-a-taunt-o.
Subjects: Maritime History.