• Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Trysail (Naut) A fore-and-aft sail, bent to a gaff, and hoisted on a lower mast or on a small mast, called the trysail mast, close abaft a lower mast; -- used chiefly as a storm sail. Called also spencer.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n trysail A fore-and-aft sail set with a gaff and sometimes with a boom on the foremast and mainmast of ships, or on a small mast called a trysail-mast. See mast.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Trysail trī′sāl or trī′sl a reduced sail used by small craft, instead of their mainsail, in a storm: a small fore-and-aft sail set with a boom and gaff.
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In literature:

Trysail was placed in the launch, at the head of a strong party of boarders.
"The Water-Witch or, The Skimmer of the Seas" by James Fenimore Cooper
Now that there is a slant in the wind we can run south under a close-reefed trysail and storm-jib.
"The Thin Red Line; and Blue Blood" by Arthur Griffiths
Loosen the bunt of the mizzen-trysail and haul at the clew.
"The Ghost Ship" by John C. Hutcheson
Is the main-trysail bent?
"The King's Own" by Captain Frederick Marryat
Get the trysail aft and bent, and lower down the gaff.
"Masterman Ready" by Captain Frederick Marryat
Our trysail blew out right away, and the tiller that we had rigged up went as well.
"The Boy with the U. S. Weather Men" by Francis William Rolt-Wheeler
The trysail gaff had parted, and, falling, had struck the old pilot to the deck.
"Tales of the Sea" by W.H.G. Kingston
The old man came up on deck and looked round, and in less than a minute he told us to give her the trysail.
"Man Overboard!" by F(rancis) Marion Crawford
He now gave the word to set the trysail; and the mainsail being stowed, it was hoisted in its stead.
"A Yacht Voyage Round England" by W.H.G. Kingston
They are still used by the Americans as trysails.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth