sail

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sail / sāl/ • n. 1. a piece of material extended on a mast to catch the wind and propel a boat, ship, or other vessel: all the sails were unfurled. ∎  the use of sailing ships as a means of transport: this led to bigger ships as steam replaced sail. ∎  [in sing.] a voyage or excursion in a ship, esp. a sailing ship or boat: they went for a sail. 2. something resembling a sail in shape or function, in particular: ∎  a wind-catching apparatus, typically one consisting of canvas or a set of boards, attached to the arm of a windmill. ∎  the conning tower of a submarine. • v. [intr.] 1. travel in a boat with sails, esp. as a sport or recreation: Ian took us out sailing on the lake. ∎  travel in a ship or boat using sails or engine power: the ferry caught fire sailing between Caen and Portsmouth. ∎  begin a voyage; leave a harbor: the catamaran sails at 3:30. ∎  [tr.] travel by ship on or across (a sea) or on (a route): plastic ships could be sailing the oceans soon. ∎  [tr.] navigate or control (a boat or ship): I stole a small fishing boat and sailed it to the Delta. 2. move smoothly and rapidly or in a stately or confident manner: she sailed into the conference room at 2:30 sharp. DERIVATIVES: sail·a·ble adj. sailed adj. [in comb.] a black-sailed ship.

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sail piece of canvas, etc. fastened to a mast, etc. to catch the wind OE.; similar arrangement attached to the arms of a windmill XV. OE. seġ(e)l = OS. segel (Du. zeil), OHG. segal, -il (G. segel), ON. segl :- Gmc. *seʒlam, of unkn. orig.
So sail vb. OE. seġl(i)an. sailor XVI. In earliest use sayler (see -ER1); later alt., by assim. to agent-nouns in -OR1 (e.g. tailor), to distinguish the designation of a regular calling from the unspecialized form.

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sail sail close to (or near) the wind come close to breaking a rule or the law; behave or operate in a risky way.
sail under false colours disguise one's true nature or intentions; the colours are the flag which signals a ship's nationality.

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Sail

sailing vessels collectively, 1436; sails collectively, 1385; windmill sails collectively.

Examples : sail of ducks, 1727; of ships, 1633; of Spaniards, 1458.