sail

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

Definition of sail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(1) : an extent of fabric (such as canvas) by means of which wind is used to propel a ship through water
(2) : the sails of a ship
b plural usually sail : a ship equipped with sails
2 : an extent of fabric used in propelling a wind-driven vehicle (such as an iceboat)
3 : something that resembles a sail especially : a streamlined conning tower on a submarine
4 : a passage by a sailing craft : cruise
under sail
: in motion with sails set

sail

verb
sailed; sailing; sails

Definition of sail (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to travel on water in a ship
b : yacht
2a : to travel on water by the action of wind upon sails or by other means
b : 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 : to begin a water voyage sail with the tide

transitive verb

1a : to travel on (water) by means of motive power (such as sail) sail the ocean
b : to glide through
2 : to direct or manage the motion of sail a ship
sail into
: to attack vigorously or sharply sailed into me for being late

Illustration of sail

Illustration of sail

Noun

sail 1a (of a schooner): 1 flying jib, 2 jib, 3 forestaysail, 4 foresail, 5 fore gaff-topsail, 6 main-topmast staysail, 7 mainsail, 8 main gaff-topsail

In the meaning defined above

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Other Words from sail

Noun

sailed \ ˈsāld \ adjective

Verb

sailable \ ˈsā-​lə-​bəl \ adjective

Synonyms for sail

Synonyms: Noun

crossing, cruise, passage, voyage

Synonyms: Verb

boat, cruise, ferry, navigate, ship (out), voyage

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Examples of sail in a Sentence

Noun

Wind filled the sails and our journey had begun. raising and lowering the ship's sails a sail to San Francisco

Verb

We'll sail along the coast. He sailed around the world on a luxury liner. She sailed the Atlantic coastline. She's sailing a boat in tomorrow's race. The ship was sailed by a crew of 8. I've been sailing since I was a child. a ship that has sailed the seven seas We sat on the shore watching boats sail by. We sail at 9 a.m. tomorrow. They sail for San Francisco next week.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And take the wind out of the sails of all the demons in the room. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "'Excited' Josh Groban & Sara Bareilles Tease 'Incredible Performances' Before Hosting 2018 Tonys," 10 June 2018 There will be 32 such concerts, beginning Wednesday and running through Aug. 18, under the vaulting steel sails of Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Recommended Chicago classical concerts for June 8-14," 7 June 2018 Look for high-quality umbrellas that are made from the same material used for making the sails of ships. Detroit Free Press, "It’s all in the details: Get the outdoors ready for Memorial Day," 23 May 2018 Guantánamo prison put its stamp of approval for release on the sail of this model ship built by a current captive, Yemeni Moath al Alwi. Carol Rosenberg, miamiherald, "Detainee art? What detainee art? Popular stop vanishes from prison media visit," 10 Feb. 2018 But boy, that Emmy night must have taken the wind out of their sails, just a bit. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "Winners: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Netflix, and old people. Losers: Atlanta and The Handmaid’s Tale.," 18 Sep. 2018 Just a few weeks later, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war, the isolationist faction in Congress had the wind taken out of its sails. Noah Isenberg, The New Republic, "Making the Movies Un-American," 3 July 2018 The Titanic set sail in 1912 from Southampton, UK and was headed for America. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "There’s a Hidden Titanic Reference in Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald and You Totally Missed It," 16 Nov. 2018 When the ship made a sharp turn—or perhaps when a sudden gust of wind caught the sails—water poured into open gunports, flooding the ship. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Tiny magnets will escort ions out of rare material from a shipwreck," 24 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Now the team is undertaking the second part of the mission, sailing through thick sea ice en route to the ship's presumed coordinates. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Antarctic Expedition Hopeful of Finding Ernest Shackleton's Long-Lost Research Vessel," 4 Feb. 2019 Experts don’t know why some people experience morning sickness and others don’t, but sailing through pregnancy without nausea and vomiting doesn’t automatically mean anything is wrong. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is It True That Morning Sickness Means Something Good During Pregnancy?," 10 Jan. 2019 Once at the beach, the fishermen put the statue on board a decorated boat and the statue sails along the coast. Kainaz Amaria, Vox, "2018, explained in pictures by women and non-binary photographers," 21 Dec. 2018 Bookings have already begun for the inaugural 17-day cruise, which starts in Tokyo, stops at such Japanese islands as Hokkaido and Rishiri, and then sails through virtually untouched territory in the Russian Far East. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 Starting next November, the Seabourn Sojourn becomes one of very few cruise ships with permission to sail around the island, its 11-to 14-day trips providing a level of luxury that’s still nowhere to be found on land. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "The Best Places to Travel in 2019," 7 Dec. 2018 To reach their destination, the crew had to sail up wind for several days, often with the boat keeled over at a 45-degree angle. Tyler Wetherall, Condé Nast Traveler, "The All-Women Sailing Crew Trying to Save the Ocean of Plastic," 27 Nov. 2018 What to Know: This is the true story of a woman and her boyfriend (here played by Woodley and Claflin, respectively) who are hired to sail a boat and end up hitting a storm. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "13 Best Movies Based on True Stories of 2018," 7 Nov. 2018 Trips to Puerto Rico are also slated to sail for a limited time as well. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Disney announces new cruises and destinations for 2020," 27 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of sail

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for sail

Noun

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

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Learn More about sail

Dictionary Entries near sail

saif

saiga

Saigon cinnamon

sail

sailage

sail arm

sailboard

Statistics for sail

Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sail

The first known use of sail was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for sail

sail

noun

English Language Learners Definition of sail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

sail

verb

English Language Learners Definition of sail (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

sail

noun
\ ˈsāl \

Kids Definition of sail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a sheet of strong cloth (as canvas) used to catch enough wind to move boats through the water or over ice
2 : the sails of a ship They lowered sail as they approached the bay.
3 : a trip in a ship or boat moved especially by the wind We went for a sail on the lake.

sail

verb
sailed; sailing

Kids Definition of sail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to travel on a boat moved especially by the wind He sailed around the world.
2 : to travel on or by water Boats sailed by.
3 : to control the motion of (a ship or boat) while traveling on water
4 : to move or proceed in a quick and smooth way The ball sailed over my head.

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More from Merriam-Webster on sail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sail

Spanish Central: Translation of sail

Nglish: Translation of sail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sail for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about sail

Comments on sail

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