Try Our Apps


Famous Last Words


[breyl] /breɪl/
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.
verb (used with object)
  1. to gather or haul in (a sail) by means of brails (usually followed by up).
  2. 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
Related forms
unbrailed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for brail
Historical Examples
  • They were young women of her own age, and Miss brail presided.

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
  • I exclaimed; “and stand by to brail up the mizzen if she fails to pay off.”

    Under the Meteor Flag Harry Collingwood
  • Mollie may live at Woodcote quite safely, and her visits to brail will be taken as a matter of course.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Madam, has Mr brail had the audacity to ask your daughter in marriage?

  • He had taken his mother to brail once, and she had been much pleased with the village.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Come now, brail, no quizzing, if you please; I am deuced weak yet.

  • Audrey went over to brail constantly during the autumn and winter months that followed Mat's death.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Then the brail of the mainsail was loosed, and the great sail shaken out.

    Sturdy and Strong G. A. Henty
  • Halloo—and is it off they are, without so much as a bow, or—brail, what is the meaning of all this?

  • Miss brail did not have the heart to answer the question truthfully.

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
British Dictionary definitions for brail


one of several lines fastened to the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to aid in furling it
(transitive) sometimes foll by up. to furl (a fore-and-aft sail) using brails
Word Origin
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for brail

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for brail

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for brail