1

sail

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

Definition of sail

1 a (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

sailed

play \ˈsāld\ adjective
under sail
: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

Recent Examples of sail from the Web

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.

Illustration of sail

Origin and Etymology of sail

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

sail Synonyms

Other Nautical Terms


2

sail

verb

Definition of sail

intransitive verb
1 a :to travel on water in a ship
b :yacht
2 a :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
1 a :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

sailable

play \ˈsā-lə-bəl\ adjective
sail into
: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.

Recent Examples of sail from the Web

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.

First Known Use of sail

before 12th century

sail Synonyms

Synonyms
boat, cruise, ferry, navigate, ship (out), voyage, make sail, take ship
Antonyms
flounder, struggle
Related Words
canoe, kayak, yacht; coast
Near Antonyms
limp, lumber, plod, stumble, trudge; shamble, shuffle; stamp, stomp, stump, tramp; labor, toil

Other Nautical Terms



SAIL Defined for English Language Learners

sail

noun

Definition of sail for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of sail for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids

1

sail

noun \ ˈsāl \

Definition of sail for Students

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.

2

sail

verb

Definition of sail for Students

sailed; sailing
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.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up sail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

to conform or adhere

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!