Definition of furl in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Roll or fold up and secure neatly (a flag, sail, umbrella, or other piece of fabric)

    ‘he shouted to the crew to furl sails’
    • ‘Allen furled the large handkerchief into a silken rope.’
    • ‘The bat furled his left wing around his body, and seemed to stretched upwards.’
    • ‘For a start, the people queuing for kebabs after the march furled their banners.’
    • ‘A fortnight ago, the marchers carried loyalist flags, but claimed that, since the flags were furled, that was all right.’
    • ‘Tying a rope to the wheel and to a pole to keep the vessel on course, Jake jumped and easily grabbed a rope, swinging himself onto the boom and beginning to furl the sails himself.’
    • ‘Fearing they would be blown into the island cliffs, the crew furled the main sail, then to lower the ship's profile further, Alexander ordered the main spar lowered.’
    • ‘They spent their time in spelling out yarns about the boats plying the seas, and the men that furled the sails and manned the tillers.’
    • ‘About 20 h after egg hatch, when the larvae on the resistant genotypes were still alive and the leaves with larvae were still furled, one leaf with larvae was removed from each plant and tested for the presence of hydrogen peroxide.’
    • ‘A Seaman was rated ‘Able’ in wind-powered navies when he was able to perform the Seaman's main duties: reef, steer, and hand - the latter meaning to furl the sails to the yard.’
    • ‘Men who have climbed a gyrating mast to furl a sail in a storm or have laboured at the helm in rough seas will never underestimate the power of the sea.’
    • ‘There was a glint of light on their deck, and she saw that she too was being watched, then turned her attention to the sails being furled.’
    • ‘A prolific writer, Marty wrote the following article on the benefits of furling for Sailing World Magazine.’
    • ‘At 6 A.M. there was a simple breakfast of biscuit and cocoa and then all hands started preparations for the day's dredging and sounding operations, furling the sails while William Spry and his mates made steam down below in the engine room.’
    • ‘Telli furled the sail as they entered its mouth and they drifted up to a small jetty, timing it perfectly so they had no need to use the oars.’
    • ‘The ships' sails were furled and covered, their many masts looked like forlorn trees in a winter storm.’
    • ‘Notice the wind turbine that has its blades furled also has stopped turning.’
    • ‘The ship had seven short masts, and though the sails were furled, the ship gave a sudden lurch as the lines were cast off, and began sliding away from the dock in such a way that it seemed the dock itself was receding from them.’
    • ‘The sails had been furled in preparation for the storm.’
    • ‘Hardly had his sails been furled and his mooring made fast than he was hustling his passengers ashore.’
    • ‘Aida remembered that Maria arose early in the morning, when the blooms were tightly furled.’
    fold, fold up, furl, wind up, coil, coil up, bundle up
    wind, coil, fold, curl
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary no object Become rolled up; curl.
      ‘the smoke furled dreamily from the dragon's blue nostrils’
      • ‘Smoke rose from a hall in the roof and drifted with the wind, twisting and furling in on itself until you were unable to see it.’
      • ‘The paper hangs in its box frame, edges furling and contracting.’
      • ‘The heather furls over the edge and down to meet our track.’
      • ‘The open window let his hat, sitting in the passenger seat, dance slightly, the tips furling up and whipping in the hurricane-fierce winds.’
      • ‘Jaime looked sideways, at a police officer with a gun in his hands, smoke furling out of the gun's barrel.’
      • ‘One impressive feature is the way Doc's coat flutters and furls as she walks or runs.’


Late 16th century: from French ferler, from Old French fer, ferm ‘firm’ + lier ‘bind’ (from Latin ligare).