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noun \ˈsāl, as last element in compounds often səl\

Simple Definition of sail

  • : a large piece of strong cloth that is connected to a ship or boat and that is used to catch the wind that moves the ship or boat through the water

  • : a trip in a ship or boat

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sail

  1. 1a (1) :  an extent of fabric (as canvas) by means of which wind is used to propel a ship through water (2) :  the sails of a shipb plural usually sail :  a ship equipped with sails

  2. 2 :  an extent of fabric used in propelling a wind-driven vehicle (as an iceboat)

  3. 3 :  something that resembles a sail; especially :  a streamlined conning tower on a submarine

  4. 4 :  a passage by a sailing craft :  cruise


play \ˈsāld\ adjective

under sail

  1. :  in motion with sails set

Examples of sail in a sentence

  1. Wind filled the sails and our journey had begun.

  2. raising and lowering the ship's sails

  3. a sail to San Francisco

Illustration of sail

Origin and Etymology of sail

Middle English, from Old English segl; akin to Old High German segal sail

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Nautical Terms




Simple Definition of sail

  • : to travel on water in a ship or boat

  • : to control a ship or boat (especially one that has sails) while traveling on water

  • of a ship or boat : to travel on water

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of sail

  • intransitive verb
    1. 1a :  to travel on water in a shipb :  yacht

    2. 2a :  to travel on water by the action of wind upon sails or by other meansb :  to move or proceed easily, gracefully, nonchalantly, or without resistance <sails through all sorts of contradictions — Vicki Hearne> <the bill sailed through the legislature>c :  to move through the air <the ball sailed over his head>

    3. 3 :  to begin a water voyage <sail with the tide>

    4. transitive verb
    5. 1a :  to travel on (water) by means of motive power (as sail)b :  to glide through

    6. 2 :  to direct or manage the motion of (as a ship)


    play \ˈsā-lə-bəl\ adjective

    sail into

    1. :  to attack vigorously or sharply <sailed into me for being late>

    Examples of sail in a sentence

    1. We'll sail along the coast.

    2. He sailed around the world on a luxury liner.

    3. She sailed the Atlantic coastline.

    4. She's sailing a boat in tomorrow's race.

    5. The ship was sailed by a crew of 8.

    6. I've been sailing since I was a child.

    7. a ship that has sailed the seven seas

    8. We sat on the shore watching boats sail by.

    9. We sail at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

    10. They sail for San Francisco next week.

    Before 12th Century

    First Known Use of sail

    before 12th century

    Other Nautical Terms

    SAIL Defined for Kids



    noun \ˈsāl\

    Definition of sail for Students

    1. 1 :  a sheet of strong cloth (as canvas) used to catch enough wind to move boats through the water or over ice

    2. 2 :  the sails of a ship <They lowered sail as they approached the bay.>

    3. 3 :  a trip in a ship or boat moved especially by the wind <We went for a sail on the lake.>




    Definition of sail for Students



    1. 1 :  to travel on a boat moved especially by the wind <He sailed around the world.>

    2. 2 :  to travel on or by water <Boats sailed by.>

    3. 3 :  to control the motion of (a ship or boat) while traveling on water

    4. 4 :  to move or proceed in a quick and smooth way <The ball sailed over my head.>

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