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type of ship's boat, 1660s, apparently from Middle Low German jolle or Dutch jol "a Juteland boat," of unknown origin. Also borrowed into French (yole), Italian (jolo), Russian (yal).
two-masted sailboat, usually rigged with one or more jibsails, a mainsail, and a mizzen. In common with the ketch, the forward (main) mast is higher than the mizzenmast, but the mizzenmast of a yawl is placed astern of the rudder post, while that of the ketch is closer amidships. Like most modern pleasure boats, yawls are rigged with fore-and-aft sails (in line with the keel), the most effective rigging in utilizing manpower. The word yawl is sometimes applied to a dinghy and to a light fishing vessel rigged with lugsails.