Definition of sail noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//seɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//seɪl//
    Parts of boats and ships, Boating
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  1. 1  [countable, uncountable] a sheet of strong cloth which 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). See related entries: Parts of boats and ships, Boating
  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. Word OriginOld English segel (noun), seglian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zeil and German Segel (nouns).Extra examples The bay was full of boats with billowing sails. The boat is preserved as a monument to the days of sail. The dinghy gathered speed as the wind filled her sails. The sails caught the wind once more and they were on their way. The ship came in under sail and anchored near us. The white canvas sail hung limply against the mast. We set sail for France at first light. a pirate ship under full sail He took us for a sail up the river. In the afternoon they went for a sail. The island is a five-hour sail from the mainland.Idioms (formal) to begin a trip by sea a liner setting sail from New York We set sail (for France) at high tide.
    take the wind out of somebody’s sails
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    (informal) to make somebody suddenly less confident or angry, especially when you do or say something that they do not expect When I agreed to his suggestion at once, it really took the wind out of his sails.
    1. 1to arrange the sails of a boat to suit the wind so that the boat moves faster See related entries: Travelling by boat or ship
    2. 2to reduce your costs
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: sail