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[top-seyl; Nautical top-suh l] /ˈtɒpˌseɪl; Nautical ˈtɒp səl/
noun, Nautical.
a sail, or either of a pair of sails, set immediately above the lowermost sail of a mast and supported by a topmast.
Origin of topsail
First recorded in 1350-1400, topsail is from the Middle English word topseil. See top1, sail Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for topsail
Historical Examples
  • I go aloft, to ease the mast of that topsail, without which we lose the spar, and possibly the ship.

    The Red Rover James Fenimore Cooper
  • The topsail and jib were spread, and the sloop glided out of the estuary.

  • He saw Ptarmigan's topsail tilt downwards and dark figures run about her deck.

    Wyndham's Pal Harold Bindloss
  • The line to which it was fastened chanced to be the topsail halliards; and whisk!

    Impressions of America Tyrone Power
  • However, I set the big jib and topsail, because I wanted to clear the banks before the flood tide made.

    Johnstone of the Border Harold Bindloss
  • “Reef the topsail, Mr Dicey,” cried the captain, on hearing this.

    Fast in the Ice R.M. Ballantyne
  • "We got to go right in, Bill," said topsail, as he furled the rodney's sails.

  • But to bend a topsail, single-handed, was a much more difficult job.

    The Castaways Harry Collingwood
  • He went aloft, and helped the men who were at work on the topsail.

    Work and Win Oliver Optic
  • Stand by, there, some of you, to jump aloft and loose the topsail when I give the word.

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


/ˈtɒpˌseɪl; nautical ˈtɒpsəl/
a square sail carried on a yard set on a topmast
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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