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gaff topsail

noun, Nautical.
Also called fore-and-aft topsail. a jib-headed fore-and-aft sail set above a gaff.
a quadrilateral fore-and-aft sail set above the spanker of a bark, between the gaff of the spanker and an upper gaff.
Origin of gaff topsail
1785-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for gaff-topsail
Historical Examples
  • The barometer was falling rapidly, in spite of the stiller air, and he had had the royals and outer jib and gaff-topsail stowed.

    Beggars on Horseback F. Tennyson Jesse
  • She carries a fore-and-aft main-sail, gaff-topsail, stay-foresail, and jib.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • In the meantime the crew had come aft to take in the mainsail and gaff-topsail.

    Hurricane Hurry W.H.G. Kingston
  • And raising me in his arms he laid me on the folds of the gaff-topsail, which lay upon the deck near the tiller.

    The Coral Island R.M. Ballantyne
  • I got hold of the gaff-topsail yard and run it under his arms, and threw a rope over him, and sung out 'Hold on, Greenleaf!

  • Five minutes sufficed for this job, and we then reset our topgallant-sail and flying-jib, and shifted our gaff-topsail.

    The Log of a Privateersman Harry Collingwood
  • I wanted to take in the gaff-topsail also, but Bob would not hear of such a thing.

    For Treasure Bound Harry Collingwood
  • Within a minute the mainsail and gaff-topsail were hauled down, so that the ship might fall off, and the jib hauled down.

  • Nearly cried over them—he did; and he had a square mainsail coat, and a gaff-topsail hat too—all proper.

  • When we drew further from the shore, the wind increased, and the gaff-topsail was unbent, and a reef taken in the mainsail.

British Dictionary definitions for gaff-topsail


a sail set above a gaffsail
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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