[ hed-seyl; Nautical hed-suhl ]

  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.

Origin of headsail

First recorded in 1620–30; head + sail

Words Nearby headsail

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use headsail in a sentence

  • 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.

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

    Little Bobtail | Oliver Optic
  • From for'ard came the jerking rattle of headsail halyards through the sheaves.

    A Son Of The Sun | Jack London
  • The helm was put up—the aftersails were brailed up and furled—more headsail was got on her.

    Salt Water | W. H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for headsail


/ (ˈhɛdˌseɪl, nautical ˈhɛdsəl) /

  1. any sail set forward of the foremast

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