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

  • n. Nautical The principal square sail hung to the foremast of a square-rigged vessel.
  • n. Nautical The principal triangular sail hung to the mast of a fore-and-aft-rigged vessel.
  • n. Nautical The triangular sail hung to the forestay of a cutter or sloop.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The lowest (and usually the largest) square sail hung on the foremast
  • n. A square fore-and-aft sail set on the foremast, but behind it, on a schooner or other similar vessel.
  • n. A triangular sail set forward of the foremast

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The sail bent to the foreyard of a square-rigged vessel, being the lowest sail on the foremast.
  • n. The gaff sail set on the foremast of a schooner.
  • n. The fore staysail of a sloop, being the triangular sail next forward of the mast.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Nautical, in a square-rigged vessel, the sail bent to the foreyard; in a schooner, the fore-and-aft sail set on the foremast; in a sloop or cutter, the sail set on the forestay.

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

  • n. the lowest sail on the foremast of a square-rigged vessel


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The awful volume of sound given out by the fierce, headlong swoop of the wind as it bore down upon us quite prepared me to see both masts blown clean out of the schooner; but all her gear fortunately happened to be sound and good, and the loss of the foresail was the full extent of the damage sustained by us.

    The Pirate Slaver A Story of the West African Coast

  • The foresail was a large one, and it almost becalmed the jib.

    All Adrift or The Goldwing Club

  • In the morning we set our foresail, meaning to bear up to the northward, standing off and on to keep away from the current, which otherwise would have set us to the south, away from, all known land.

    A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 08

  • The air was thick with flying wreckage, detached ropes and stays were hissing and coiling like snakes, and down through it all crashed the gaff of the foresail.

    Chapter 17

  • We had been under lower-topsails and a reefed foresail all night.


  • The foresail and fore-topsail, emptied of the wind by the manoeuvre, and with no one to bring in the sheet in time, were thundering into ribbons, the heavy boom threshing and splintering from rail to rail.

    Chapter 17

  • Grief ordered the foresail put on, retaining the reefs, and the Uncle


  • Take in the foresail — it's more than she can carry already — and stand by to wear her around.


  • The cheerful sailor crept forward and jibed over the foresail as Charley put the helm to starboard and we swerved to the right into the San Joaquin.

    Charley's Coup

  • It was a clumsy way, but it did not take long, and soon the foresail as well was up and fluttering.

    Chapter 39


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