Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A large triangular sail set on a spar that swings out opposite the mainsail, used on yachts when running before the wind.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A supplemental sail to the main sail, especially a triangular one, used on yachts for running before the wind.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A large triangular sail set upon a boom, -- used when running before the wind.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A jib-headed racing-sail carried by yachts, set, when running before the wind, on the side opposite to the mainsail.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a large and usually triangular headsail; carried by a yacht as a headsail when running before the wind

Etymologies

Perhaps ultimately from Sphinx, name of the first yacht to use such a sail, or spin, to move rapidly (variant of Scots spene, to run before the wind; see spindrift).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • Then she made him uncomfortable by hitting him several times in different parts of the body with a long spar which she called the spinnaker boom.

    Priscilla's Spies

  • It was in spinnaker, up mizzen, all sheets by the wind, and we were moving slowly ahead, heaving the lead and straining our eyes for the fixed red light on the ruined fort that would give us our bearings to anchorage.

    Chapter 10

  • Now, the race starts so that we're going down wind which means those big colorful sails called a spinnaker are out in front.

    CNN Transcript Aug 28, 2009

  • Regarding the "spinnaker" shape of the sail -- on another forum, someone noted that it looks exactly like a woman's thong underwear!

    Wind Dam

  • "Racing school" is for more advanced sailors who are looking to become proficient at race strategy, tactics and maneuvers "spinnaker" gives individuals or teams instruction and practice with this element of sailing.

    The Roanoke Times: Home page

  • First, at corner exits, it pulls like hell, like it has deployed some magical torque spinnaker.

    BMW 1M: Miniature, Mighty and Miles of Fun

  • On Artemis Ocean Racing, Ms. Caffari instructs her crew to hoist the spinnaker, but a run of bad luck follows and two spinnakers are ripped, allowing their competitors to race past as they sail to the finish line.

    Sailing in the Eye of the Wind

  • There was that matter of the deck-calking, the bronze rudder-irons, the overhauling of the engine, the new spinnaker boom, the new davits, and the repairs to the whale-boat.

    Bunches of Knuckles

  • This afternoon I kept busy on deck working out the easiest way to pole the headsail (using the spinnaker pole to hold the headsail right out) to make sailing downwind (with the wind right behind us) more comfortable.

    True Spirit

  • Spar to control headsails, including the spinnaker, used especially when sailing downwind.

    True Spirit

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