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Dead-eye

in nautical phrase, is a block of wood with three holes through it, for the lanyards of rigging to reeve through, without sheaves, and with a groove round it for an iron strap. (Dana: Seaman's Manual, p. 92.) The holes are eyes, but they are dead eyes.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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