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[breyl] /breɪl/
Nautical. any of several horizontal lines fastened to the edge of a fore-and-aft sail or lateen sail, for gathering in the sail.
a leather binding for a hawk's wings, to prohibit flight.
verb (used with object)
  1. to gather or haul in (a sail) by means of brails (usually followed by up).
  2. to transfer (fish) from a net to the hold of a ship.
to bind (the wings of a bird) in order to prevent it from flying.
Origin of brail
1400-50; late Middle English, variant of brayell < Anglo-French braiel; Old French < Medieval Latin brācāle breechbelt, noun use of neuter of brācālis, equivalent to Latin brāc(ae) trousers (< Gaulish) + -ālis -al1
Related forms
unbrailed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for brail
Historical Examples
  • They were young women of her own age, and Miss brail presided.

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
  • I exclaimed; “and stand by to brail up the mizzen if she fails to pay off.”

    Under the Meteor Flag Harry Collingwood
  • Mollie may live at Woodcote quite safely, and her visits to brail will be taken as a matter of course.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Madam, has Mr brail had the audacity to ask your daughter in marriage?

  • He had taken his mother to brail once, and she had been much pleased with the village.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Come now, brail, no quizzing, if you please; I am deuced weak yet.

  • Audrey went over to brail constantly during the autumn and winter months that followed Mat's death.

    Lover or Friend Rosa Nouchette Carey
  • Then the brail of the mainsail was loosed, and the great sail shaken out.

    Sturdy and Strong G. A. Henty
  • Halloo—and is it off they are, without so much as a bow, or—brail, what is the meaning of all this?

  • Miss brail did not have the heart to answer the question truthfully.

    Comrade Yetta Albert Edwards
British Dictionary definitions for brail


one of several lines fastened to the leech of a fore-and-aft sail to aid in furling it
(transitive) sometimes foll by up. to furl (a fore-and-aft sail) using brails
Word Origin
C15: from Old French braiel, from Medieval Latin brācāle belt for breeches, from Latin brāca breeches
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for brail

small rope used on ships, mid-15c., from Old French brail, earlier braiel "belt, leather thong," from Latin bracale "waistbelt," from bracæ "breeches" (plural, see breeches).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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