synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of sail in English

English Online Dictionary. What means sail‎? What does sail mean?



  • IPA(key): /seɪl/, [seɪ̯ɫ]
  • Rhymes: -eɪl
  • Homophone: sale

Etymology 1

From Middle English saile, sayle, seil, seyl, from Old English seġl, from Proto-Germanic *seglą (compare earlier Middle Low German segel and later Low German sail), cognate with Dutch zeil, German Segel, Danish sejl, Norwegian Bokmål seil, Norwegian Nynorsk segl from pre-Germanic/Celtic sek-lo (compare Welsh hwyl, Irish séol), from Proto-Indo-European *sek- 'to cut'. More at saw.


sail (countable and uncountable, plural sails)

  1. (nautical) A piece of fabric attached to a boat and arranged such that it causes the wind to drive the boat along. The sail may be attached to the boat via a combination of mast, spars and ropes.
  2. (nautical,uncountable) The concept of a sail or sails, as if a substance.
    Take in sail: a storm is coming.
  3. (uncountable) The power harnessed by a sail or sails, or the use of this power for travel or transport.
  4. A trip in a boat, especially a sailboat.
    Let's go for a sail.
  5. (dated, plural "sail") A sailing vessel; a vessel of any kind; a craft.
    Twenty sail were in sight.
  6. The blade of a windmill.
  7. A tower-like structure found on the dorsal (topside) surface of submarines.
  8. The floating organ of siphonophores, such as the Portuguese man-of-war.
  9. (fishing) A sailfish.
    We caught three sails today.
  10. (paleontology) an outward projection of the spine, occurring in certain dinosaurs and synapsids
  11. Anything resembling a sail, such as a wing.
    • Spenser
      Like an eagle soaring / To weather his broad sails.
  • See also Thesaurus:sail
Derived terms

Etymology 2

From Middle English sailen, saylen, seilen, seilien, from Old English seġlian (to sail), from Proto-Germanic *seglōną, *siglijaną (to sail). Cognate with Saterland Frisian sailje (to sail), German Low German seilen (to sail), Dutch zeilen (to sail), German segeln (to sail), Danish sejle (to sail), Swedish segla (to sail), Norwegian Bokmål segle (to sail), Icelandic - and Norwegian Nynorsk sigla (to sail).


sail (third-person singular simple present sails, present participle sailing, simple past and past participle sailed)

  1. To be impelled or driven forward by the action of wind upon sails, as a ship on water; to be impelled on a body of water by steam or other power.
  2. To move through or on the water; to swim, as a fish or a waterfowl.
  3. To ride in a boat, especially a sailboat.
  4. To set sail; to begin a voyage.
    We sail for Australia tomorrow.
  5. To move briskly and gracefully through the air.
    • Shakespeare
      As is a winged messenger of heaven, [] / When he bestrides the lazy pacing clouds, / And sails upon the bosom of the air.
    • [flavor text of the card "Spirit of the Winds"]
      A spirit of the wind that freely sails the skies.
  6. To move briskly.
    The duchess sailed haughtily out of the room.
Derived terms
  • besail
  • sail close to the wind


  • Alis, Isla, LIAs, LISA, Lias, Lisa, SiAl, ails, lais, lias, sial




  1. area



Borrowed from English sail. Doublet of zeil


  • IPA(key): /seːl/
  • Hyphenation: sail
  • Rhymes: -eːl


sail n (plural sails)

  1. (nautical) The fin or sail of a submarine.
    Synonym: toren


Alternative forms

  • sal


From Old Irish sal, from Proto-Celtic *salā.


  • IPA(key): /salʲ/


sail f (genitive singular saile)

  1. dirt, dross, impurity
  2. stain, defilement


Derived terms

Related terms


Further reading

  • C. Marstrander, E. G. Quin et al., editors (1913–76), “sal”, in Dictionary of the Irish Language: Based Mainly on Old and Middle Irish Materials, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, →ISBN
  • “sal” in Foclóir Gaeḋilge agus Béarla, Irish Texts Society, 1st ed., 1904, by Patrick S. Dinneen, page 589.
  • "sail" in Foclóir Gaeilge-Béarla, An Gúm, 1977, by Niall Ó Dónaill.
  • Entries containing “sail” in New English-Irish Dictionary by Foras na Gaeilge.



sail (nominative plural sails)

  1. (nautical) sail


Derived terms

  • sailan
  • sailön

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