cradler, n.
/krayd"l/, n., v., cradled, cradling.
1. a small bed for an infant, usually on rockers.
2. any of various supports for objects set horizontally, as the support for the handset of a telephone.
3. the place where anything is nurtured during its early existence: Boston was the cradle of the American Revolution.
4. Agric.
a. a frame of wood with a row of long curved teeth projecting above and parallel to a scythe, for laying grain in bunches as it is cut.
b. a scythe together with the cradle in which it is set.
5. a wire or wicker basket used to hold a wine bottle in a more or less horizontal position while the wine is being served.
6. Artillery. the part of a gun carriage on which a recoiling gun slides.
7. a landing platform for ferryboats, rolling on inclined tracks to facilitate loading and unloading at different water levels.
8. Aeron. a docklike structure in which a rigid or semirigid airship is built or is supported during inflation.
9. Auto. creeper (def. 5).
10. Naut.
a. a shaped support for a boat, cast, etc.; chock.
b. truss (def. 9).
11. Shipbuilding.
a. a moving framework on which a hull slides down the ways when launched.
b. a built-up form on which plates of irregular form are shaped.
12. Med. a frame that prevents the bedclothes from touching an injured part of a bedridden patient.
13. Mining. a box on rockers for washing sand or gravel to separate gold or other heavy metal.
14. an engraver's tool for laying mezzotint grounds.
15. Painting. a structure of wooden strips attached to the back of a panel, used as a support and to prevent warping.
16. rob the cradle, Informal. to marry, court, or date a person much younger than oneself.
17. to hold gently or protectively.
18. to place or rock in or as in an infant's cradle.
19. to nurture during infancy.
20. to receive or hold as a cradle.
21. to cut (grain) with a cradle.
22. to place (a vessel) on a cradle.
23. Mining. to wash (sand or gravel) in a cradle; rock.
24. Painting. to support (a panel) with a cradle.
25. to lie in or as if in a cradle.
26. to cut grain with a cradle scythe.
[bef. 1000; ME cradel, OE cradol; akin to OHG cratto basket]
Syn. 3. birthplace, fountain, font, wellspring.

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      in furniture, infant's bed of wood, wicker, or iron, having enclosed sides and suspended from a bar, slung upon pivots, or mounted on rockers. The rocking motion of the cradle is intended to lull the infant to sleep. The cradle is an ancient type of furniture, and its origins are unknown. Early cradles developed from hollowed-out tree trunks to oblong, lidless wood boxes, originally with apparently detachable rockers. Later cradles were paneled and carved, supported on pillars, inlaid, or mounted in gilded bronze.

      Every period of furniture style has produced a variety of cradle types, from simple boxes to the elaborate draped state cradles of 18th-century France. While peasant babies slept in light wooden or wickerwork cradles, royal and noble medieval infants were rocked in cradles decorated with gold, silver, and precious stones. The wood cradles mounted on rockers so popular from the 15th through the 17th century were gradually superseded in the 18th and 19th centuries by wicker cradles that were slung between end supports in order to raise them higher from the ground. Adult cradles also survive, presumably from the 18th and 19th centuries, for the elderly and infirm. In much of the world, cradles were gradually replaced by the barred crib in the early 20th century.

▪ harvesting tool
      in agriculture, rakelike harvesting implement of wood, devised in ancient times for gathering the stalks of wheat, oats, barley, and other grains (first cut with the sickle) and laying them in rows for binding. The later cradle scythe invented in Europe consisted of a framework of long, fingerlike prongs attached to the cutting edge of a long-handled scythe. The device was swung like the usual scythe but simultaneously cut the grain and gathered it into loose bundles ready for tying. Cradles of this type are still employed in some areas of the world.

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Universalium. 2010.

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