Nearby words

  1. saida,
  2. saiga,
  3. saigo takamori,
  4. saigon,
  5. saigon cinnamon,
  6. sail close to the wind,
  7. sail into,
  8. sail plan,
  9. sail through,
  10. sail under false colors


Origin of sail

before 900; (noun) Middle English sail(e), seille, Old English segl; cognate with German Segel, Old Norse segl; (v.) Middle English seillen, saylen, Old English siglan, seglian; cognate with Dutch zeilen, Old Norse sigla

Related formssail·a·ble, adjectivesail·less, adjectiveun·sail·a·ble, adjectiveun·sailed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sail

British Dictionary definitions for sail



an area of fabric, usually Terylene or nylon (formerly canvas), with fittings for holding it in any suitable position to catch the wind, used for propelling certain kinds of vessels, esp over water
a voyage on such a vessela sail down the river
a vessel with sails or such vessels collectivelyto travel by sail; we raised seven sail in the northeast
a ship's sails collectively
something resembling a sail in shape, position, or function, such as the part of a windmill that is turned by the wind or the part of a Portuguese man-of-war that projects above the water
the conning tower of a submarine
in sail having the sail set
make sail
  1. to run up the sail or to run up more sail
  2. to begin a voyage
set sail
  1. to embark on a voyage by ship
  2. to hoist sail
under sail
  1. with sail hoisted
  2. under way

verb (mainly intr)

to travel in a boat or shipwe sailed to Le Havre
to begin a voyage; set sailwe sail at 5 o'clock
(of a vessel) to move over the waterthe liner is sailing to the Caribbean
(tr) to manoeuvre or navigate a vesselhe sailed the schooner up the channel
(tr) to sail overshe sailed the Atlantic single-handed
(often foll by over, through, etc) to move fast or effortlesslywe sailed through customs; the ball sailed over the fence
to move along smoothly; glide
(often foll by in or into) informal
  1. to begin (something) with vigour
  2. to make an attack (on) violently with words or physical force
Derived Formssailable, adjectivesailless, adjective

Word Origin for sail

Old English segl; related to Old Frisian seil, Old Norse segl, German Segel

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 sail
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with sail


In addition to the idioms beginning with sail

  • sail close to the wind
  • sail into
  • sail through
  • sail under false colors

also see:

  • (sail under) false colors
  • plain sailing
  • set sail
  • smooth sailing
  • take the wind out of one's sails
  • trim one's sails
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.