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.