gaff topsail

  1. Also called fore-and-aft topsail. a jib-headed fore-and-aft sail set above a gaff.

  2. a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail set above the spanker of a bark, between the gaff of the spanker and an upper gaff.

Origin of gaff topsail

First recorded in 1785–95 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use gaff topsail in a sentence

  • And raising me in his arms he laid me on the folds of the gaff-topsail, which lay upon the deck near the tiller.

    The Coral Island | R.M. Ballantyne
  • Half an hour later we took in the fore topsail and the main gaff-topsail, so that nothing but our fore and aft sails remained.

    Up the River | Oliver Optic
  • The main gaff-topsail was next set, and the Josephine was then under full sail.

    Down the Rhine | Oliver Optic
  • Within a minute the mainsail and gaff-topsail were hauled down, so that the ship might fall off, and the jib hauled down.

  • The main gaff-topsail was taken in, and then the schooner had only her jib, foresail, and mainsail.

    Dikes and Ditches | Oliver Optic

British Dictionary definitions for gaff-topsail


  1. a sail set above a gaffsail

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