One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Trim the sails of a vessel so that the wind alternately fills and spills out of them, in order to maneuver in a limited space.
- ‘Sure, they make compromises and back and fill with the wind.’
- 1.1 Zigzag or vacillate.
- ‘Even as she wants to advance boldly, therefore, she is required by the evidence to back and fill, leaving the reader with a bewildering combination of affirmation and qualification.’
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