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.