• WordNet 3.6
    • n mainsail the lowermost sail on the mainmast
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Mainsail mān"sāl` (Naut) The principal sail in a ship or other vessel.☞ The mainsail of a ship is extended upon a yard attached to the mainmast, and that of a sloop or schooner upon the boom. "They] hoised up the mainsail to the wind."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n mainsail In a square-rigged vessel, the sail bent to the main-yard; the main course: in a fore-and-aft rigged vessel, the large sail set on the after part of the mainmast.
    • n mainsail plural The square sails on the mainmast: they are the course, or mainsail proper, the lower and upper topsails, the topgallantsail and royal, and also a skysail if the ship is lofty. Men-of-war usually carry single topsails instead of a divided sail.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Mainsail the principal sail generally attached to the mainmast
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. maine or magne, great—L. magnus, great.


In literature:

He took Vandersee's arm now, turning him until he faced the mainsail.
"Gold Out of Celebes" by Aylward Edward Dingle
I can't head right away for Vancouver with no mainsail.
"Masters of the Wheat-Lands" by Harold Bindloss
The spar which stretches the foot of the boom-mainsail in a fore-and-aft rigged vessel.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
Up wi' you, and loose that mainsail, and, when you've got it loose, furl it.
"The Grain Ship" by Morgan Robertson
He wished that he had lowered the mainsail before coming ashore.
"A Little Maid of Province Town" by Alice Turner Curtis
Captain Starkweather had already hoisted the sloop's mainsail, and gave Anne a warm welcome as her father helped her on board.
"A Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony" by Alice Turner Curtis
The mainsail hung drooped like a banner.
"Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Down wi' the mainsail.
"The Ocean Waifs" by Mayne Reid
The foresail was lowered and the mainsail partly brailed up, so that she had only way on her sufficient to stem the tide.
"A Chapter of Adventures" by G. A. Henty
Haul the mainsail up, and square the yards!
"The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 20, No. 121, November, 1867" by Various
The big mainsail of the barge had been dropped and the men with the sheriff were paddling the craft in to the shore.
"The Girls of Central High in Camp" by Gertrude W. Morrison
An hour later the yacht was under sail, with two reefs in her mainsail and a small jib set.
"Australia Revenged" by Boomerang
At 11 A.M. we lowered the mainsail and raised the funnel.
"The Last Voyage" by Lady (Annie Allnutt) Brassey
While the second half ate, the first half took in all canvas and reefed it with the exception of the mainsail.
"The Harbor of Doubt" by Frank Williams
Her quarter to leeward just cut under the Adams' bowsprit and the leech of her mainsail seemed to flatten past.
"The Seiners" by James B. (James Brendan) Connolly
He shook his head in desperation, whereupon the second lady gave orders to the men to stop hoisting the mainsail.
"The Return of the Prodigal" by May Sinclair
Our topsails were reefed, and the mainsail was hauled up and handled.
"Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland" by John Mackay Wilson
About midnight our mainsail was split, and shortly after we found that the sloop had sprung a leak.
"Tales from "Blackwood"" by Various
In a storm like that, the mainsail, jib and mast of this luckless smack went over the side.
"Grenfell: Knight-Errant of the North" by Fullerton Waldo
That's where you take in the mainsail, and fly the jibsail; or take in the jibsail and try the stormjib.
"Toilers of the Sea" by Victor Hugo

In poetry:

“I saw her mainsail lash the sea
As I clung to the rock alone;
Then she heeled over, and down she went,
And sank like any stone.
"Winstanley" by Jean Ingelow
The mainsails are filled, where are we rushing?
Isn’t there time for one last kiss?,
Old homeland, mother, another embrace,
Just let us have one parting glance Then tie our hands, prodding, pushing,
And lead us to hell if that’s your wish.
"Janizary Leading Prisoners" by Giorgi Leonidze

In news:

This is Roger Payne talking to you from the Odyssey, under mainsail, mizzen and jib as we sail west across the rolling tropical pacific.
But even with Kookaburra 's broken mainsail fitting in the last leg, Murray had piled another 38 seconds on his lead by the finish.
I set to, raising first the full mainsail, whose sheet I left loose so as not to start us sailing while I raised the anchor.
Del Viento is just visible in the upper right, with her beige mainsail cover.
The pin that holds the boom to the mast for the mainsail came out.
With her mainsail set, this replica of an early 19th century US revenue cutter will keep her bows facing into the wind and safely ride out the summer squalls and winter gales of many years.
Bob Stephens talks about square -top mainsails.