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an area of canvas or other fabric extended to the wind in such a way as to transmit the force of the wind to an assemblage of spars and rigging mounted firmly on a hull, raft, iceboat, etc., so as to drive it along.
some similar piece or apparatus, as the part of an arm that catches the wind on a windmill.
a voyage or excursion, especially in a sailing vessel:
They went for a sail around the island.
a sailing vessel or ship.
sailing vessels collectively:
The fleet numbered 30 sail.
sails for a vessel or vessels collectively.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. the constellation Vela.
verb (used without object)
to move along or travel over water:
steamships sailing to Lisbon.
to manage a sailboat, especially for sport.
to begin a journey by water:
We are sailing at dawn.
to move along in a manner suggestive of a sailing vessel:
caravans sailing along.
to move along in a stately, effortless way:
to sail into a room.
verb (used with object)
to sail upon, over, or through:
to sail the seven seas.
to navigate (a vessel).
Verb phrases
sail in/into, Informal.

to go vigorously into action; begin to act; attack.
to attack verbally:
He would sail into his staff when work was going badly.

in sail, with the sails set.
make sail, Nautical.

to set the sail or sails of a boat or increase the amount of sail already set.
to set out on a voyage:
Make sail for the Leeward Islands.

set sail, to start a sea voyage:
We set sail at midnight for Nantucket.
trim one’s sails, Informal. to cut expenses; economize:
We’re going to have to trim our sails if we stay in business.
under sail, with sails set; in motion; sailing:
It was good to be under sail in the brisk wind and under the warm sun.
an area of fabric, usually Terylene or nylon (formerly canvas), with fittings for holding it in any suitable position to catch the wind, used for propelling certain kinds of vessels, esp over water
a voyage on such a vessel: a sail down the river
a vessel with sails or such vessels collectively: to travel by sail, we raised seven sail in the northeast
a ship’s sails collectively
something resembling a sail in shape, position, or function, such as the part of a windmill that is turned by the wind or the part of a Portuguese man-of-war that projects above the water
the conning tower of a submarine
in sail, having the sail set
make sail

to run up the sail or to run up more sail
to begin a voyage

set sail

to embark on a voyage by ship
to hoist sail

under sail

with sail hoisted
under way

verb (mainly intransitive)
to travel in a boat or ship: we sailed to Le Havre
to begin a voyage; set sail: we sail at 5 o’clock
(of a vessel) to move over the water: the liner is sailing to the Caribbean
(transitive) to manoeuvre or navigate a vessel: he sailed the schooner up the channel
(transitive) to sail over: she sailed the Atlantic single-handed
often foll by over, through, etc. to move fast or effortlessly: we sailed through customs, the ball sailed over the fence
to move along smoothly; glide
(informal) often foll by in or into

to begin (something) with vigour
to make an attack (on) violently with words or physical force

1. Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
2. Stanford Artificial Intelligence Language.
3. An early system on the Larc computer.
[Listed in CACM 2(5):16, May 1959].
[Jargon File]

sail close to the wind
sail into
sail through
sail under false colors


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