Nautical. any of several horizontal lines fastened to the edge of a fore-and-aft sail or lateen sail, for gathering in the sail.
a leather binding for a hawk's wings, to prohibit flight.

verb (used with object)

  1. to gather or haul in (a sail) by means of brails (usually followed by up).
  2. to transfer (fish) from a net to the hold of a ship.
to bind (the wings of a bird) in order to prevent it from flying.

Nearby words

  1. braid,
  2. braided,
  3. braided stream,
  4. braiding,
  5. braids,
  6. braille,
  7. braille, louis,
  8. braillewriter,
  9. braillist,
  10. brailowsky

Origin of brail

1400–50; late Middle English, variant of brayell < Anglo-French braiel; Old French < Medieval Latin brācāle breechbelt, noun use of neuter of brācālis, equivalent to Latin brāc(ae) trousers (< Gaulish) + -ālis -al1

Related formsun·brailed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for brail

British Dictionary definitions for brail



one of several lines fastened to the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to aid in furling it


(tr sometimes foll by up) to furl (a fore-and-aft sail) using brails

Word Origin for brail

C15: from Old French braiel, from Medieval Latin brācāle belt for breeches, from Latin brāca breeches

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

Word Origin and History for brail



small rope used on ships, mid-15c., from Old French brail, earlier braiel "belt, leather thong," from Latin bracale "waistbelt," from bracæ "breeches" (plural, see breeches).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper