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See more synonyms for furl on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with object)
  1. to gather into a compact roll and bind securely, as a sail against a spar or a flag against its staff.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become furled.
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  1. the act of furling.
  2. something furled, as a roll.
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  1. furl in a body, Nautical. to furl (a square sail) with loose canvas gathered at the mast, so as to make a harbor furl.
  2. furl in the bunt, Nautical. to furl (a square sail) by gathering canvas upward, so as to load the yard equally at all points.
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Origin of furl

1550–60; compare Middle French ferler in same sense, perhaps representing Old French ferlier to chain, fasten, equivalent to fer firm (< Latin firmus) + lier to bind (< Latin ligāre)
Related formsfurl·a·ble, adjectivefurl·er, noun


  1. furlough.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for furl

Historical Examples

  • At midnight, orders were given to furl the fore and mizen topsails.

    The Nigger Of The "Narcissus"

    Joseph Conrad

  • Every effort was made to clear the wreck and to furl the sails.

  • We are going to loose and furl, and you can see better there than here.

    Up The Baltic

    Oliver Optic

  • Jim and I were sent aloft to the fore-topgallant sailyard to furl the sail.

    Peter Trawl

    W. H. G. Kingston

  • Let go the topgallant and topsail halliards, and clew up and furl the sails.

    The Rover's Secret

    Harry Collingwood

British Dictionary definitions for furl


  1. to roll up (an umbrella, a flag, etc) neatly and securely or (of an umbrella, flag, etc) to be rolled up in this way
  2. (tr) nautical to gather in (a square sail)
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  1. the act or an instance of furling
  2. a single rolled-up section
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Derived Formsfurlable, adjectivefurler, noun

Word Origin

C16: from Old French ferlier to bind tightly, from ferm tight (from Latin firmus firm 1) + lier to tie, bind, from Latin ligāre
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 furl


1550s, of uncertain origin, possibly from Middle French ferler "to furl," from Old French ferliier "chain, tie up, lock away," perhaps from fer "firm" (from Latin firmus; see firm (adj.)) + -lier "to bind" (from Latin ligare). Related: Furled; furling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper