• 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
The struggle had carried Dan'l forward, so that when he dropped 'twas across the fallen trysail.
"Merry-Garden and Other Stories" by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
Indeed, a trysail that day would have been sail enough for almost any men but these.
"The Seiners" by James B. (James Brendan) Connolly
This was accordingly done, and the trysail was set instead, and the helm lashed a-lee.
"The Cruise of the Frolic" by W.H.G. Kingston
Just before this aggregate of days elapses, I haul aft my trysail sheets, and stretch over to the Cape of Good Hope.
"Memoirs of Service Afloat, During the War Between the States" by Raphael Semmes
The next task was to set the jib as a trysail.
"The Wireless Officer" by Percy F. Westerman
Jimmy glanced at them, and quietly lashed the trysail gaff to the boom before he turned to Anthea Merril.
"Thrice Armed" by Harold Bindloss
Then we set to work to bend the storm-trysail, a very handy sail, which could be hoisted much more readily than our heavy mainsail.
"The Cruise of the 'Alerte'" by E. F. Knight
It was about the middle of the afternoon when the equipage of Commodore Trysail drove up.
"I've Been Thinking;" by Azel Stevens Roe
The Old Man came up on deck and looked round, and in less than a minute he told us to give her the trysail.
"Wandering Ghosts" by F. Marion Crawford
Ef we do that, we'll stow all th' sail an' hoist a trysail, or ridin' sail on th' main to steady her an' keep her headin' up to her cable.
"The Viking Blood" by Frederick William Wallace