• Sail


    • IPA: /seɪl/
    • Rhymes: -eɪl
    • Homophones: sale

    Origin 1

    From Old English seġel, from Proto-Germanic *seglą (compare earlier Middle Low German segel and later Low German sail), cognate with Dutch zeil, German Segel, Danish sejl), from pre-Germanic/Celtic sek-lo (compare Welsh hwyl, Irish séol), from Proto-Indo-European *sek- 'to cut'. More at saw.

    Full definition of sail



    (plural sails)
    1. (nautical) A piece of fabric attached to a boat and arranged such that it causes the wind to drive the boat along. The sail may be attached to the boat via a combination of mast, spars and ropes.
      • Shakespeare Midsummer|II: Scene 1: 496-497When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive
        And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind;
    2. (uncountable) The power harnessed by a sail or sails, or the use this power for travel or transport.
    3. A trip in a boat, especially a sailboat.Let's go for a sail.
    4. (dated) A sailing vessel; a vessel of any kind; a craft. Plural sail.Twenty sail were in sight.
    5. The blade of a windmill.
    6. A tower-like structure found on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines.
    7. The floating organ of siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man-of-war.
    8. (fishing) A sailfish.We caught three sails today.
    9. (paleontology) an outward projection of the spine, occurring in certain dinosaur and synapsid
    10. Anything resembling a sail, such as a wing.
      • SpenserLike an eagle soaring
        To weather his broad sails.


    Origin 2

    Old English seġlian, cognate to earlier Middle Low German segelen and its descendant Low German sailen.


    1. To be impelled or driven forward by the action of wind upon sails, as a ship on water; to be impelled on a body of water by steam or other power.
    2. To move through or on the water; to swim, as a fish or a waterfowl.
    3. To ride in a boat, especially a sailboat.
    4. To set sail; to begin a voyage.We sail for Australia tomorrow.
    5. To move briskly and gracefully through the air.
      • ShakespeareAs is a winged messenger of heaven, ...
        When he bestrides the lazy pacing clouds,
        And sails upon the bosom of the air.
      • 2011, April 15, Saj Chowdhury, Norwich 2 - 1 Nott'm Forest, A hopeful ball from Forest right-back Brendan Moloney to the left edge of the area was met first by Ruddy but his attempted clearance rebounded off Tyson's leg and sailed in.
    6. To move briskly.


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