- Nautical. any of several horizontal lines fastened to the edge of a fore-and-aft sail or lateen sail, for gathering in the sail.
- a leather binding for a hawk's wings, to prohibit flight.
- to gather or haul in (a sail) by means of brails (usually followed by up).
- to transfer (fish) from a net to the hold of a ship.
- to bind (the wings of a bird) in order to prevent it from flying.
Origin of brail
1400–50; late Middle English, variant of brayell < Anglo-French braiel; Old French < Medieval Latin brācāle breechbelt, noun use of neuter of brācālis, equivalent to Latin brāc(ae) trousers (< Gaulish) + -ālis -al1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for brail
I exclaimed; “and stand by to brail up the mizzen if she fails to pay off.”Under the Meteor Flag
Man the braces fore and aft; square away the yards and brail in the mizen.The Congo Rovers
He had taken his mother to Brail once, and she had been much pleased with the village.Lover or Friend
Rosa Nouchette Carey
Well, has not Mr Brail told you you might stay if you choose?
Come now, Brail, no quizzing, if you please; I am deuced weak yet.
- one of several lines fastened to the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to aid in furling it
- (tr sometimes foll by up) to furl (a fore-and-aft sail) using brails
C15: from Old French braiel, from Medieval Latin brācāle belt for breeches, from Latin brāca breeches
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Word Origin and History for brail
small rope used on ships, mid-15c., from Old French brail, earlier braiel "belt, leather thong," from Latin bracale "waistbelt," from bracæ "breeches" (plural, see breeches).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper