Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang

gaff topsail

noun, Nautical.
Also called fore-and-aft topsail. a jib-headed fore-and-aft sail set above a gaff.
a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail set above the spanker of a bark, between the gaff of the spanker and an upper gaff.
Origin of gaff topsail
First recorded in 1785-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for gaff-topsail
Historical Examples
  • She carries a fore-and-aft main-sail, gaff-topsail, stay-foresail, and jib.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • I wanted to take in the gaff-topsail also, but Bob would not hear of such a thing.

    For Treasure Bound Harry Collingwood
  • In the meantime the crew had come aft to take in the mainsail and gaff-topsail.

    Hurricane Hurry W.H.G. Kingston
  • What a head to the gaff-topsail, as long as that of the mainsail itself!

    The Cruise of the Frolic W.H.G. Kingston
  • And raising me in his arms he laid me on the folds of the gaff-topsail, which lay upon the deck near the tiller.

    The Coral Island R.M. Ballantyne
  • First, the smallness of the yard to which the head of the gaff-topsail is laced; and secondly, the great size of the headsail.

  • Man fore-clew-garnets, flying jib down haul, topgallant sheets, and gaff-topsail gear.

    Jack Tier or The Florida Reef James Fenimore Cooper
  • I got hold of the gaff-topsail yard and run it under his arms, and threw a rope over him, and sung out 'Hold on, Greenleaf!

  • Nearly cried over them—he did; and he had a square mainsail coat, and a gaff-topsail hat too—all proper.

  • Five minutes sufficed for this job, and we then reset our topgallant-sail and flying-jib, and shifted our gaff-topsail.

    The Log of a Privateersman Harry Collingwood
British Dictionary definitions for gaff-topsail


a sail set above a gaffsail
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 of the Day

Difficulty index for gaff topsail

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for gaff

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for gaff-topsail