RAM, a male sheep, one kept for breeding purposes in domestication and not castrated, as opposed to the castrated "wether" (see Sheep). For the ram as one of the signs of the zodiac, see Aries. The word may be connected with O.Nor. ramme, strong, or with Sansk. ram, to sport. The butting propensities of the ram have given rise to the many transferred senses of the word, chief and earliest of which is that of a battering implement used before the days of cannon for beating in the gates and breaching the walls of fortified places (see Battering Ram). Many technical uses of the term have been developed from this, e.g. the weight of a pile-driving machine, the piston of a hydraulic press and other machines or portions of machines worked by water power (see Hydraulics). The ancient warvessels were fitted with a beak (Lat. rostrum, Gr. gig30Xov), projecting from the bows, and used to ram or crush in the sides of an opposing vessel; for the development of this in the modern battleship, see Ship.
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