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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Sheet anchor \Sheet" an"chor\ [OE. scheten to shoot, AS. sce['o]tan; cf. OE. shoot anchor. See Shoot, v. t.] 1. (Naut.) A large anchor stowed on shores outside the waist of a vessel; -- called also waist anchor. See the Note under Anchor. [1913 Webster] 2. Anything regarded as a sure support or dependence in danger; the best hope or refuge. [1913 Webster]