Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of Sail
Meaning of sail by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Two sailboats racing,
    with the wind filling their sails


    • Rhymes: -eɪl
    • Homophone: sale

    Etymology 1

    Old English seġel, from Proto-Germanic *seʒlan ( compare 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 .


    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 .
    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. The blade of a windmill .
    5. A tower-like structure found on the dorsal ( topside ) surface of submarines .
    6. The floating organ of siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man-of-war .
    7. ( fishing ) A sailfish .
      We caught three sails today .
    • See also Wikisaurus:sail
    Derived terms

    Etymology 2

    Old English seġlian


    to sail ( third-person singular simple present sails present participle sailing, simple past and past participle sailed )

    1. To ride in a boat, especially a sailboat .
    2. To move briskly and gracefully through the air .
    3. To move briskly .


Explanation of sail by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. travel on water propelled by wind or by other means

    2. The QE2 will sail to Southampton tomorrow
    3. traverse or travel on ( a body of water )

    4. We sailed the Atlantic
      He sailed the Pacific all alone
    5. move with sweeping, effortless, gliding motions

    6. Shreds of paper sailed through the air
    7. travel on water propelled by wind

    8. I love sailing, especially on the open sea
      the ship sails on
    1. an ocean trip taken for pleasure

    2. a large piece of fabric ( usually canvas fabric ) by means of which wind is used to propel a sailing vessel

    3. any structure that resembles a sail

    Definition of sail by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Sail n. [OE. seil, AS. segel, segl; akin to D. zeil, OHG. segal, G. & Sw. segel, Icel. segl, Dan. seil. √ 153.]
      1. An extent of canvas or other fabric by means of which the wind is made serviceable as a power for propelling vessels through the water.

      Behoves him now both sail and oar. Milton.

      2. Anything resembling a sail, or regarded as a sail.

      3. A wing; a van. [Poetic]

      Like an eagle soaring

      To weather his broad sails. Spenser.

      4. The extended surface of the arm of a windmill.

      5. A sailing vessel; a vessel of any kind; a craft.

      ☞ In this sense, the plural has usually the same form as the singular; as, “twenty sail were in sight”.

      6. A passage by a sailing vessel; a journey or excursion upon the water.

      ☞ Sails are of two general kinds, fore-and-aft sails, and square sails. Square sails are always bent to yards, with their foot lying across the line of the vessel. Fore-and-aft sails are set upon stays or gaffs with their foot in line with the keel. A fore-and-aft sail is triangular, or quadrilateral with the after leech longer than the fore leech. Square sails are quadrilateral, but not necessarily square. See Phrases under Fore, a., and Square, a.; also, Bark, Brig, Schooner, Ship, Stay.

      Sail burton ( Naut. ), a purchase for hoisting sails aloft for bending. -- Sail fluke ( Zool. ), the whiff. -- Sail hook, a small hook used in making sails, to hold the seams square. -- Sail loft, a loft or room where sails are cut out and made. -- Sail room ( Naut. ), a room in a vessel where sails are stowed when not in use. -- Sail yard ( Naut. ), the yard or spar on which a sail is extended. -- Shoulder-of-mutton sail ( Naut. ), a triangular sail of peculiar form. It is chiefly used to set on a boat's mast. -- To crowd sail. ( Naut. ) See under Crowd. -- To loose sails ( Naut. ), to unfurl or spread sails. -- To make sail ( Naut. ), to extend an additional quantity of sail. -- To set a sail ( Naut. ), to extend or spread a sail to the wind. -- To set sail ( Naut. ), to unfurl or spread the sails; hence, to begin a voyage. -- To shorten sail ( Naut. ), to reduce the extent of sail, or take in a part. -- To strike sail ( Naut. ), to lower the sails suddenly, as in saluting, or in sudden gusts of wind; hence, to acknowledge
      inferiority; to abate pretension. -- Under sail, having the sails spread.

    2. Sail v. i. [imp. & p. p. Sailed ; p. pr. & vb. n. Sailing.] [AS. segelian, seglian. See Sail, n.]
      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 the action of steam or other power.

      2. To move through or on the water; to swim, as a fish or a water fowl.

      3. To be conveyed in a vessel on water; to pass by water; as, “they sailed from London to Canton”.

      4. To set sail; to begin a voyage.

      5. To move smoothly through the air; to glide through the air without apparent exertion, as a bird.

      As is a winged messenger of heaven, . . .

      When he bestrides the lazy pacing clouds,

      And sails upon the bosom of the air. Shak.

    3. Sail, v. t.
      1. To pass or move upon, as in a ship, by means of sails; hence, to move or journey upon ( the water ) by means of steam or other force.

      A thousand ships were manned to sail the sea. Dryden.

      2. To fly through; to glide or move smoothly through.

      Sublime she sails

      The aerial space, and mounts the wingèd gales. Pope.

      3. To direct or manage the motion of, as a vessel; as, “to sail one's own ship”. Totten.