Painter

The rope spliced into the eye at the

head of a launch, dinghy or other small craft, by which she is either towed

astern or made fast. Oxford

English Dictionary
says that the origin of the word is obscure, but directs atten­tion to two

facts: fIrst that in antique times it was spelled penter; second that in Old

French a penteur was a rope on which to hang something, and that the nauti­cal

use of penteur relates to a lifting rope rove at the masthead.