a. One of the upright partitions dividing a ship into compartments and serving to add structural rigidity and to prevent the spread of leakage or fire.
b. A partition or wall serving a similar purpose in a vehicle, such as an aircraft or spacecraft.
2. A wall or an embankment, as in a mine or along a waterfront, that acts as a protective barrier.
3. Chiefly New England A horizontal or sloping structure on the outside of a building, providing access to a cellar stairway.
[bulk, stall, partition (perhaps of Scandinavian origin) + HEAD.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.