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1. Nautical
a. A piece of fabric sewn together and fitted to the spars and rigging of a vessel so as to convert the force of the wind into forward motion of the vessel.
b. The sails of a ship or boat.
c. A narrow fairwater supporting the bridge of a submarine.
2. pl. sail or sails Nautical A sailing vessel.
3. Nautical A trip or voyage in a sailing craft.
4. Something, such as the blade of a windmill, that resembles a sail in form or function.
v. sailed, sail·ing, sails
1. Nautical
a. To move across the surface of water, especially by means of a sailing vessel.
b. To travel by water in a vessel.
c. To start out on such a voyage or journey: Tomorrow we sail for the islands.
d. To operate a sailing craft, especially for sport.
2. To move along or progress smoothly or effortlessly: sailed into the room five minutes late; sailed through the exam; sailed through the red light.
3. To move along through the air: The ball sailed into the stands. Nautical
1. To navigate or manage (a vessel).
2. To voyage upon or across: sail the Pacific.
Phrasal Verb:
sail into
To attack or criticize vigorously: sailed into the workmen for the shoddy job they were doing.
under sail
Nautical With the sails up; sailing.

[Middle English seil, from Old English segl. Sail into, from obsolete sail, to attack, from Middle English sailen, short for assailen; see assail.]


  • crab-skuit - A small, open fishing boat with sails.
  • haul - Originally had the nautical meaning of "to trim the sails to sail closer to the wind."
  • sail - Once meant specifically "to travel on a ship with sails," and, later, "to travel on any ship"; figuratively, it means "to go through effortlessly," as in, "to sail through the exam."
  • three sheets to the wind - Pertains to chains that regulate the angle of sails; if the sheets were loose, the boat would become unstable and tipsy.
References in classic literature ?
Well, we must put up more sails on our boat," said the Doctor, "so we can go faster and get away from them.
With our large sails and the healthy breeze romping up the Carquinez Straits, we found that our sailing was what is called "ticklish.
Granet fastened his oilskins and stooped for a moment to alter one of the sails.
Above her head rustled the white sails, which seemed like great white wings.
not only were the old sails being mended, but new sails were coming on board, and bolts of canvas, and coils of rigging; in short, everything betokened that the ship's preparations were hurrying to a close.
Loftiest trucks were made for wildest winds, and this brain-truck of mine now sails amid the cloud-scud.
When I first sighted her, all her sails were drawing; she was lying a course about north- west, and I presumed the men on board were going round the island on their way back to the anchorage.
There is passion, adoration, in his eyes, and he goes about in a sort of trance, gazing in ecstasy at the swelling sails, the foaming wake, and the heave and the run of her over the liquid mountains that are moving with us in stately procession.
The only sail noticeable was a foreign schooner with all sails set, which was seemingly going westwards.
Influenced by these representations, the British government ordered the frigate Phoebe to be detached as a convoy for the armed ship, Isaac Todd, which was ready to sail with men and munitions for forming a new establishment.
25-31) So said he: but the master chid him with taunting words: `Madman, mark the wind and help hoist sail on the ship: catch all the sheets.
Evidently they have spied our sail, and guess that we do not belong to their fleet.