• synonyms


[hed-seyl; Nautical hed-suh l]
noun Nautical.
  1. any of various jibs or staysails set forward of the foremost mast of a vessel.
  2. any sail set on a foremast, especially on a vessel having three or more masts.
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Origin of headsail

First recorded in 1620–30; head + sail
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for headsail

Historical Examples of headsail

  • First, the smallness of the yard to which the head of the gaff-topsail is laced; and secondly, the great size of the headsail.

    King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855

    E. Keble Chatterton

  • John Paul himself taught me to tack and wear ship, and MacMuir to stow a headsail.

    Richard Carvel, Complete

    Winston Churchill

  • The essentials of the schooner are two fore-and-aft sails and a headsail (jib), any other sails being incidental.

  • From for'ard came the jerking rattle of headsail halyards through the sheaves.

    A Son Of The Sun

    Jack London

  • The young skipper was determined to test the question, and, lashing the helm, he hoisted her headsail.

    Little Bobtail

    Oliver Optic

British Dictionary definitions for headsail


  1. any sail set forward of the foremast
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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