From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
3. (Naut.) An iron block, usually bolted to a ship's deck, for controlling the running out of a chain cable. The links of the cable tend to drop into hollows in the block, and thus hold fast until disengaged.
4. (Elec.) Any electric device for controlling a circuit or system; specif.: (a) An electromagnet, excited by the main current, for throwing a regulator magnet into or out of circuit in an automatic device for constant current regulation. (b) A kind of multiple switch for gradually admitting the current to, or shutting it off from, an electric motor; as, a car controller for an electric railway car. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
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