sail

noun
\ ˈsāl How to pronounce sail (audio) , 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 How to pronounce sail (audio) \ adjective

Verb

sailable \ ˈsā-​lə-​bəl How to pronounce sail (audio) \ adjective

Synonyms for sail

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Since July only about 400,000 passengers have set sail, mostly in Europe and Asia. Jonathan O'connell, Anchorage Daily News, "As the tourism industry returns, 3 million workers wait for a callback," 20 Apr. 2021 Political blustering aside, there seemed to be little reason why either country would want to set sail, but a post on Telegram by Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin helps make things quite a bit clearer. Mike Wehner, BGR, "Russia’s talk of leaving the ISS makes so much more sense now," 20 Apr. 2021 Travelers can now set sail from the barefoot luxury resort Soneva Fushi on a new four-day, three-night Goidhoo experience aboard the Soneva in Aqua yacht. Laura Begley Bloom, Forbes, "This Country Want You To Visit So Badly It’ll Give You A Covid Vaccine," 16 Apr. 2021 Since July only about 400,000 passengers have set sail, mostly in Europe and Asia. Washington Post, "As the tourism industry returns, 3 million workers wait for a callback," 16 Apr. 2021 All major cruise lines sailing out of U.S. ports are subject to the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sailing order that was issued last October in place of a no-sail order that was enacted in March 2020. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Sens. Scott, Rubio file federal cruise act to remove CDC order, allow sailing again," 14 Apr. 2021 The first is a no-sail order by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that applies nationwide. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska governor and Legislature press for restart of big-cruise voyages amid dwindling hope for the 2021 tourist season," 10 Apr. 2021 The lawsuit has asked to set aside and declare the no-sail order as unlawful immediately. Tori B. Powell, CBS News, "Florida sues federal government to demand reopening of cruise industry," 8 Apr. 2021 DeSantis said the no-sail order is outdated and hurts the state as the industry generates billions for the economy and employs tens of thousands of Floridians. NBC News, "Florida sues federal government to allow cruises to sail," 8 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Sixty-four percent of China’s maritime trade and 40% of its overall trade flows through the South China Sea, through which U.S. naval ships sail regularly. Were hostilities to break out between China and the U.S., the conflict would be a naval one. Seth Cropsey, WSJ, "America’s Naval Strategy Is at Sea," 27 Apr. 2021 But there is a risk that if the CDC doesn't act, cruise lines could simply have the ships sail from ports in the Caribbean. Chris Isidore, CNN, "Cruise lines poised for rebound despite no word on when US sailings can resume," 11 Apr. 2021 The state is planning to allocate $260 million in relief money to help seaports that have suffered losses during the pandemic, but that won’t be enough if ships can’t sail, DeSantis said. Skyler Swisher, sun-sentinel.com, "DeSantis demands the federal government end cruise ship ‘lockdown’," 26 Mar. 2021 If passed, the Alaska Cruise Line Recovery Act will allow ships to sail to the 49th state without a stop in Canada. Forbes, "Aboard Mexico’s Tequila Train, New CDC Travel Guidelines, Alaska Cruise News And More," 12 Mar. 2021 On February 4, the Canadian government announced no cruise ships will be permitted to sail in Canadian waters until at least March 1, 2022. CNN, "Traveling to Canada during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go," 16 Apr. 2021 American power is in decline, but the U.S. is determined to uphold its right to sail naval vessels in that vast body of water. Howard W. French, WSJ, "‘2034’ Review: Navigating a Disaster," 15 Apr. 2021 Cruise lines have begun to sail in markets around the world including Asia, Europe and soon the Caribbean. Richard Tribou, orlandosentinel.com, "Sens. Scott, Rubio file federal cruise act to remove CDC order, allow sailing again," 14 Apr. 2021 The decision could set up a confrontation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when the luxury cruise line is scheduled to sail from Port Everglades in December. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Another cruise line will require vaccines; DeSantis says no," 12 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for sail

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sail

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sail. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce sail (audio) \

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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Comments on sail

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