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[sey-ler] /ˈseɪ lər/
a person whose occupation is sailing or navigation; mariner.
a seaman below the rank of officer.
a naval enlistee.
a person adept at sailing, especially with reference to freedom from seasickness:
He was such a bad sailor that he always traveled to Europe by plane.
a flat-brimmed straw hat with a low, flat crown.
Origin of sailor
1540-50; earlier sailer; see sail, -or2
Related forms
sailorlike, adjective
sailorly, adjective
nonsailor, noun
Can be confused
sailer, sailor (see synonym study at the current entry)
1. seafarer. Sailor, mariner, salt, seaman, tar are terms for a person who leads a seafaring life. A sailor or seaman is one whose occupation is on board a ship at sea, especially a member of a ship's crew below the rank of petty officer: a sailor before the mast; an able-bodied seaman. Mariner is a term now found only in certain technical expressions: master mariner (captain in merchant service); mariner's compass (ordinary compass as used on ships); formerly used much as “sailor” or “seafaring man,” now the word seems elevated or quaint: Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Salt and tar are informal terms for old and experienced sailors: an old salt; a jolly tar.
1. landlubber. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sailor
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Finally he disappeared, and, as it seems, embraced the profession of a sailor.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • I left the Plato at the quarantine ground, going to the sailor's Retreat.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
  • To Margaret the sailor repeated his story, nor could all her questions shake it.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • He crept to where he lay upon the deck, and called to a sailor who rushed by to help him.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
  • Presently the sailor was shown in, the man who brought him leaving the room at once.

    Fair Margaret H. Rider Haggard
British Dictionary definitions for sailor


any member of a ship's crew, esp one below the rank of officer
a person who sails, esp with reference to the likelihood of his becoming seasick: a good sailor
short for sailor hat, sailor suit
Derived Forms
sailorly, adjective
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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Word Origin and History for sailor

c.1400, sailer, agent noun from sail (v.). Spelling with -o- arose 16c., probably by influence of tailor, etc., and to distinguish the meaning "seaman, mariner" from "thing that sails." It replaced much older seaman and mariner (q.q.v.). Old English also had merefara "sailor." Applied as an adjective from 1870s to clothing styles and items based on a sailor's characteristic attire.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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