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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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a thick plank, used for several mechanical purposes; especially:

a plank to receive the mouth of a petard, with which it is applied to anything intended to be broken down.

a plank or beam used for supporting the earth in mines or fortifications.

Origin: f, from sp. Madero, or pg. Madeiro, fr. Sp. Madera wood for building, timber, pg. Madeira, L. Materia stuff, materials, lumber. See matter.