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sail definition


This page has 24 definitions of sail with English translations in 6 languages. Sail is a noun and verb. Examples of how to use sail in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Sail, SAIL, sáil, sàil, and saïl

English sail definition

Two sailboats racing,
with the wind filling their sails
A square-rigged sail
Dimetrodon loomisi, a synapsid species with a sail (spine projection).


Etymology 1

From Middle English saile, sayle, seil, seyl, from Old English seġl, from Proto-West Germanic *segl, from Proto-Germanic *seglą. Cognate with West Frisian seil, Low German Segel, Dutch zeil, German Segel, Swedish segel.


sail (countable and uncountable, 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. (nautical, uncountable) The concept of a sail or sails, as if a substance.
    Take in sail: a storm is coming.
  3. (uncountable) The power harnessed by a sail or sails, or the use of this power for travel or transport.
  4. A trip in a boat, especially a sailboat.
    Let's go for a sail.
  5. (dated, plural "sail") A sailing vessel; a vessel of any kind; a craft.
    Twenty sail were in sight.
  6. (nautical) The conning tower of a submarine.
  7. The blade of a windmill.
  8. A tower-like structure found on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines.
  9. The floating organ of siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man-of-war.
  10. (fishing) A sailfish.
    We caught three sails today.
  11. (paleontology) an outward projection of the spine, occurring in certain dinosaurs and synapsids
  12. Anything resembling a sail, such as a wing.
Derived terms
Terms derived from sail (noun)
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Etymology 2

From Middle English sailen, saylen, seilen, seilien, from Old English siġlan (to sail), from Proto-West Germanic *siglijan, from *siglijaną. Cognate with West Frisian sile, Low German seilen, Dutch zeilen, German segeln, Swedish segla, Icelandic sigla.


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

  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. (intransitive) To set sail; to begin a voyage.
    We sail for Australia tomorrow.
  5. To move briskly and gracefully through the air.
    • c. 1591–1595, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Romeo and Ivliet”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act II, scene ii]:
      As is a winged messenger of heaven, [] / When he bestrides the lazy pacing clouds, / And sails upon the bosom of the air.
    • 2002 March 20, Kazuki Takahashi, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories (PlayStation video game, North American version), Konami:
      [flavor text of the card "Spirit of the Winds"] A spirit of the wind that freely sails the skies.
    • 2011 April 15, Saj Chowdhury, “Norwich 2 - 1 Nott'm Forest”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      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. (intransitive) To move briskly.
    The duchess sailed haughtily out of the room.
Derived terms

External links


Basque sail definition



  1. area

Dutch sail definition


Borrowed from English sail. Doublet of zeil



sail n (plural sails)

  1. (nautical) The fin or sail of a submarine.
    Synonym: toren

Irish sail definition

Alternative forms


From Old Irish sal, from Proto-Celtic *salā.



sail f (genitive singular saile)

  1. dirt, dross, impurity
    sail mhiotailmetal dross
  2. stain, defilement
    sail pheacathe stain of sin


Derived terms


Related terms


Irish mutation
Radical Lenition Eclipsis
sail shail
after an, tsail
not applicable
Note: Some of these forms may be hypothetical. Not every possible mutated form of every word actually occurs.

Further reading

Volapük sail definition


sail (nominative plural sails)

  1. (nautical) sail


Derived terms

  • sailan
  • sailön

Welsh sail definition


Borrowed from Latin solea (sole).


sail f (plural seiliau, not mutable)

  1. base, basis, foundation
    Synonym: sylfaen

Derived terms

  • seiliedig (established; fundamental)


R. J. Thomas, G. A. Bevan, P. J. Donovan, A. Hawke et al., editors (1950–present) , “sail”, in Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru Online (in Welsh), University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh & Celtic Studies