square sail

square sail

noun Nautical.
a sail set beneath a horizontal yard, the normal position of which, when not trimmed to the wind, is directly athwartships.

Origin:
1590–1600

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To square sail
Collins
World English Dictionary
square sail
 
n
nautical a rectangular or square sail set on a horizontal yard rigged more or less athwartships

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

square sail

simplest form of rigging and the most ancient. The sails are attached to yards (crossbars) that are hung at their centres from the mast, and there are as many as five yards, one above the other. The characteristic of the square sail, apart from its shape, is that it always presents the same face to the wind, though the yard may pivot considerably about the mast. The square sail was the only rigging used in northern European waters until late in the Middle Ages, but by the 11th century it could be turned to catch the wind on the beam. Ultimately, it was combined with the more versatile fore-and-aft lateen sail of the Mediterranean to produce the full-rigged ship of the age of exploration. Square sails are little used in modern sailing.

Learn more about square sail with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature