noun Nautical.

a small pole or spar crossing a fore-and-aft sail diagonally from the mast to the upper aftermost corner, serving to extend the sail.

Origin of sprit

before 900; Middle English spret, Old English sprēot; cognate with Dutch, German Spriet; akin to sprout
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sprits

Historical Examples of sprits

  • She's a brigantine, and there are sprits'ls on both masts, and only one square sail on the foremast.

    Somehow Good

    William de Morgan

  • A large Dutch coasting trader, fitted with two masts, and sails set with sprits.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • Qu dict excittus Marius dgns rbus, qus poste gessit, sprits concpit.

    Selections from Viri Romae

    Charles Franois L'Homond

  • We also got out, and sent them the masts and regular sails of the boat, which was fitted to carry two sprits.

    Miles Wallingford

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Instead of booms, sprits were used; these were set up at the heels with tackles to the masts.

British Dictionary definitions for sprits



nautical a light spar pivoted at the mast and crossing a fore-and-aft quadrilateral sail diagonally to the peak

Word Origin for sprit

Old English spreot; related to Old High German spriuzen to support, Dutch spriet sprit, Norwegian sprӯta
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 sprits



Old English spreot "pole," originally "a sprout, shoot, branch," from root of sprout. Cognate with Middle Dutch spriet, Middle Low German spryet, German spriet, North Frisian sprit.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper