Definition of topsail in US English:



  • 1A sail set on a ship's topmast.

    • ‘She shouted and watched with a grin as Gilmore loosed the British flag above the topsail and it flew into the sea behind them.’
    • ‘It's fitting that the Hawaiian Chieftain sails San Francisco Bay regularly: A square-rigged topsail ketch, her rigging and hull shape are reminiscent of trading vessels that sailed along the West Coast in the 18th century.’
    • ‘The engines were steaming full speed astern, and by hoisting the topsail, the ship shot past it in safety.’
    • ‘As they approached the coast of Western Australia the wind blew too heavily for the ship to make landfall and they had to heave to with close reefed topsails.’
    • ‘He stopped occasionally to study the weather, peered closely up at the topsails to make sure the yards were correctly trimmed.’
    • ‘The topsails of the ship in the distance could be seen.’
    • ‘With shot and ball tearing his topsails and splintering the white oak planks and the tall pine masts, the captain of the beleaguered vessel had no choice by raising the white flag.’
    • ‘With the wind starting to blow harder, the fore and main topsails were handed and storm lashings secured.’
    • ‘He works in the topsails and makes fast friends with his companions and a veteran sailor, referred to as the Dansker.’
    • ‘Marking the twentieth anniversary of the original Pride of Baltimore to Baltimore West Cork, the topsail schooner, Pride of Baltimore 2 from Baltimore, Maryland, made an official visit to Baltimore, Ireland from 24th to 28th August.’
    • ‘You, my bucko, were knocked off the topsail rigging and into the half deck.’
    • ‘The Challenger crew sighted their first iceberg on February 10, 1874, after weathering a storm of such ferocity that the ship was forced to run under treble-reefed topsails.’
    • ‘The return with Kaliakra was slow, having crippled her taking out the topsail masts.’
    • ‘The pirate ship had furled their mainsail and within moments released a smaller topsail, but the distance between the two ships was too great despite the extra sail, and soon they dropped behind, losing heart for the chase.’
    • ‘I hurried over to the topsail (we were all assigned positions for situations such as these) and began to climb the rigging.’
    • ‘Other ships on the high-seas in the late 1700's and up to the end of the 1800's were the sloop, a single masted ship that could carry a mainsail, topsail and foresail.’
    1. 1.1 A fore-and-aft sail set above the gaff.
      • ‘There was also the Cutter, also single masted but she had a Gaff Mainsail, square topsail and Foresail.’
      • ‘A mizzen mast, near the stern carried a fore and aft sail; another sail was spread below the bowsprit, and smaller topsails were set above the mainsail and foresail.’
      • ‘Her bowsprit carries two foresails, and her large mainsail is gaff rigged, with an upside-down triangle of topsail to fill the gap at the masthead.’