American English

Definition of sail noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] a sheet of strong cloth that the wind blows against to make a boat or ship travel through the water As the boat moved down the river the wind began to fill the sails. a ship under sail (= using sails) in the days of sail (= when ships all used sails) She moved away like a ship in full sail (= with all its sails spread out). The vessel can be propelled by oars or sail (= sails).
  2. 2[singular] a trip in a boat or ship We went for a sail. a two-hour sail across the bay
  3. 3[countable] a set of boards attached to the arm of a windmill
  4. Idioms
    set sail (from/for…) (formal)
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    to begin a trip by ocean a liner setting sail from New York We set sail (for France) at high tide.
    take the wind out of somebody's sails (informal)
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    to make someone suddenly less confident or angry, especially when you do or say something that they do not expect When I immediately agreed to his suggestion, it really took the wind out of his sails.
    trim your sails
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    to arrange the sails of a boat to suit the wind so that the boat moves faster
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: sail