A sail is the big piece of cloth attached to a mast that propels a sailboat through the water by catching the wind. Part of learning to sail a boat is learning how to use the sails.

Most sailboats have two sails, the mainsail and the jib or headsail on the front of the boat. When you sail, you pilot the boat, or simply ride on it — you can also say you go for a sail. Additionally, the verb sail is used when something seems to float on the air: "The kite sails high in the blue sky." You "sail through" something when it's very easy and quick.

Definitions of sail

n a large piece of fabric (usually canvas fabric) by means of which wind is used to propel a sailing vessel

canvas, canvass, sheet
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balloon sail
any light loose sail
crossjack, mizzen course
the lowermost sail on a mizzenmast
fore-and-aft sail
any sail not set on a yard and whose normal position is in a fore-and-aft direction
the lowest sail on the foremast of a square-rigged vessel
any sail set forward of the foremast of a vessel
the lowermost sail on the mainmast
a topsail set on the mainmast
press of canvas, press of sail
the greatest amount of sail that a ship can carry safely
a sail set next above the topgallant on a royal mast
a sail set to catch wind spilled from a larger sail
the sail above the royal on a square-rigger
square sail
a four-sided sail set beneath a horizontal yard suspended at the middle from a mast
topgallant, topgallant sail
a sail set on a yard of a topgallant mast
a sail (or either of a pair of sails) immediately above the lowermost sail of a mast and supported by a topmast
the topsail on a foremast
gaff-headed sail, gaffsail
a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail suspended from a gaff
fore-and-aft topsail, gaff topsail
a triangular fore-and-aft sail with its foot along the gaff and its luff on the topmast
any triangular fore-and-aft sail (set forward of the foremast)
lateen, lateen sail
a triangular fore-and-aft sail used especially in the Mediterranean
lug, lugsail
a sail with four corners that is hoisted from a yard that is oblique to the mast
main course
a square mainsail
mizen, mizzen
fore-and-aft sail set on the mizzenmast
a fore-and-aft sail set on the aftermost lower mast (usually the mizzenmast) of a vessel
a large and usually triangular headsail; carried by a yacht as a headsail when running before the wind
a fore-and-aft sail extended by a sprit
a fore-and-aft sail set on a stay (as between two masts)
Type of:
piece of cloth, piece of material
a separate part consisting of fabric

n any structure that resembles a sail

Type of:
construction, structure
a thing constructed; a complex entity constructed of many parts

n an ocean trip taken for pleasure

Type of:
ocean trip, voyage
an act of traveling by water

v traverse or travel on (a body of water)

“We sailed the Atlantic”
“He sailed the Pacific all alone”
Type of:
journey, travel
travel upon or across

v travel on water propelled by wind or by other means

“The QE2 will sail to Southampton tomorrow”
navigate, voyage
navigate in space
sail or travel about for pleasure, relaxation, or sightseeing
Type of:
journey, travel
undertake a journey or trip

v travel on water propelled by wind

“I love sailing, especially on the open sea”
“the ship sails on”
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sail before the wind
luff, point
sail close to the wind
sail to the windward of
sail with much tacking or with difficulty
rack, scud
run before a gale
sail closer to the wind than
tack, wear round
turn into the wind
wear ship
turn away from the wind
change course, gybe, jib, jibe
shift from one side of the ship to the other
Type of:
ride in a boat on water

v move with sweeping, effortless, gliding motions

“Shreds of paper sailed through the air”
brush, sweep
sweep across or over
sweep majestically
Type of:
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

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