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[sprit] /sprɪt/
noun, Nautical.
a small pole or spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally from the mast to the upper aftermost corner, serving to extend the sail.
Origin of sprit
before 900; Middle English spret, Old English sprēot; cognate with Dutch, German Spriet; akin to sprout Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sprits
Historical Examples
  • She's a brigantine, and there are sprits'ls on both masts, and only one square sail on the foremast.

    Somehow Good William de Morgan
  • A large Dutch coasting trader, fitted with two masts, and sails set with sprits.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • Qu dict excittus Marius dgns rbus, qus poste gessit, sprits concpit.

    Selections from Viri Romae Charles Franois L'Homond
  • We also got out, and sent them the masts and regular sails of the boat, which was fitted to carry two sprits.

    Miles Wallingford James Fenimore Cooper
  • Instead of booms, sprits were used; these were set up at the heels with tackles to the masts.

  • sprits were used instead of booms, and there was sometimes a short bowsprit, carrying a jib.

British Dictionary definitions for sprits


(nautical) a light spar pivoted at the mast and crossing a fore-and-aft quadrilateral sail diagonally to the peak
Word Origin
Old English spreot; related to Old High German spriuzen to support, Dutch spriet sprit, Norwegian sprӯta
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 sprits



Old English spreot "pole," originally "a sprout, shoot, branch," from root of sprout. Cognate with Middle Dutch spriet, Middle Low German spryet, German spriet, North Frisian sprit.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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