Definition of brail in English:



  • Small ropes that are led from the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to pulleys on the mast for temporarily furling it.

    • ‘As with the brails and sheets, there is no need to trim the scolaringe.’
    • ‘It was too late to pause, however, and the sheet was slowly eased off, Jack hauling on the brail at the same time.’
    • ‘For approaches, landings, and getting the sail out of the way while rowing, let go the sheet and haul on the brail.’


[with object]brail a sail up
  • Furl a sail by hauling on brails.

    • ‘I would haul the mizen up, and the mizen stay-sail down, or brail it up, hard a weather the helm, shiver the mizen top-sail, let go the main and main-top bowlines, ease off the main sheet, the lee main brace, and round in the weather brace.’
    • ‘Large sprit rigs leave the sprit standing, and the sail is furled by brailing it up to the mast and headrope.’


Late Middle English: from Old French braiel, from medieval Latin bracale ‘girdle’, from braca ‘breeches’.