Definition for SAIL

SAIL, n. [Sax. segel; G. and Sw. segel; Dan. sejl; D. zeil; W. kwyl, a sail, a course, order, state, journey; hwyliaw, to set in a course, train or order, to direct, to proceed, to sail, to attack, to butt. The Welsh appears to be the same word. So hâl is the L. sal, salt.]

  1. In navigation, a spread of canvas, or an assemblage of several breadths of canvas, [or some substitute for it,] sewed together with a double seam at the borders, and edged with a cord called the bolt-rope, to be extended on the masts or yards for receiving the impulse of wind by which a ship is driven. The principal sails are the courses or lower sails, the top-sails and top-gallant-sails. – Mar. Dict.
  2. In poetry, wings. – Spenser.
  3. A ship or other vessel; used in the singular for a single ship, or as a collective name for many. We saw a sail at the leeward. We saw three sail on our starboard quarter. The fleet consists of twenty sail. To loose sails, to unfurl them. To make sail, to extend an additional quantity of sail. To set sail, to expand or spread the sails; and hence, to begin a voyage. To shorten sail, to reduce the extent of sail, or take in a part. To strike sail, to lower the sails suddenly, as in saluting or in sudden gusts of wind. #2. To abate show or pomp. [Colloquial.] – Shak.

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