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[meyn-seyl; Nautical meyn-suh l] /ˈmeɪnˌseɪl; Nautical ˈmeɪn səl/
noun, Nautical.
the lowermost sail on a mainmast.
Origin of mainsail
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English; see main1, sail Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for main-sail
Historical Examples
  • Here is the main-yard alongside of us, with the main-sail and plenty of rope hanging on to it.

    Ben Burton W. H. G. Kingston
  • The lower yard of the main-sail is called the boom, and the upper the main-sail yard.

    Man on the Ocean R.M. Ballantyne
  • The main-sail was a lug-sail with a large boom, and did not require to be dipped every time a tack was made.

    The Swan and Her Crew George Christopher Davies
  • When quite near, he hauled up his main-sail, by order of the vice-admiral.

    The Two Admirals J. Fenimore Cooper
  • The soldiers once more fired; two bullets struck the boat, but did no damage; the third went through the main-sail.

    Roger Willoughby William H. G. Kingston
  • Dick, you cut the lashings and get the main-sail off the hoops.

    In Greek Waters G. A. Henty
  • The main-sail shivered, as the breeze caught it slightly aback.

    Jack Harvey's Adventures Ruel Perley Smith
  • The main-sail had rent from the leash to the peak of the gaff, and was shaking into shreds.

    Manuel Pereira F. C. Adams
  • The Hispaniola was under her main-sail and two jibs, and the beautiful white canvas shone in the sun like snow or silver.

    The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson
  • And the halliards of his main-sail were running in the blocks as soon as he said it.

British Dictionary definitions for main-sail


/ˈmeɪnˌseɪl; nautical ˈmeɪnsəl/
(nautical) the largest and lowermost sail on the mainmast
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
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main-sail in the Bible

(Gr. artemon), answering to the modern "mizzen-sail," as some suppose. Others understand the "jib," near the prow, or the "fore-sail," as likely to be most useful in bringing a ship's head to the wind in the circumstances described (Acts 27:40).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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