sheet

2
[ sheet ]
/ ʃit /

noun

Nautical.
  1. a rope or chain for extending the clews of a square sail along a yard.
  2. a rope for trimming a fore-and-aft sail.
  3. a rope or chain for extending the lee clew of a course.

verb (used with object)

Nautical. to trim, extend, or secure by means of a sheet or sheets.

Idioms for sheet

    three sheets in/to the wind, Slang. intoxicated.

Origin of sheet

2
1300–50; Middle English shete, shortening of Old English scēatlīne, equivalent to scēat(a) lower corner of a sail (see sheet1) + līne line1, rope; cognate with Low German schote
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for three sheets to the wind (1 of 2)

sheet1
/ (ʃiːt) /

noun

verb

(tr) to provide with, cover, or wrap in a sheet
(intr) (of rain, snow, etc) to fall heavily

Word Origin for sheet

Old English sciete; related to sceat corner, lap, Old Norse skaut, Old High German scōz lap

British Dictionary definitions for three sheets to the wind (2 of 2)

sheet2
/ (ʃiːt) /

noun

nautical a line or rope for controlling the position of a sail relative to the wind

Word Origin for sheet

Old English scēata corner of a sail; related to Middle Low German schōte rope attached to a sail; see sheet 1
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

Cultural definitions for three sheets to the wind

three sheets to the wind

To be “three sheets to the wind” is to be drunk. The sheet is the line that controls the sails on a ship. If the line is not secured, the sail flops in the wind, and the ship loses headway and control. If all three sails are loose, the ship is out of control.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with three sheets to the wind (1 of 2)

three sheets to the wind

Also, three sheets in the wind. Drunk, inebriated, as in After six beers he's three sheets to the wind. This expression is generally thought to refer to the sheet—that is, a rope or chain—that holds one or both lower corners of a sail. If the sheet is allowed to go slack in the wind, the sail flaps about and the boat is tossed about much as a drunk staggers. Having three sheets loose would presumably make the situation all the worse. Another explanation holds that with two or four sheets to the wind the boat is balanced, whereas with three it is not. [Mid-1800s]

Idioms and Phrases with three sheets to the wind (2 of 2)

sheet

see three sheets to the wind; white as a sheet.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.