Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

sail - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb sail pronunciation in British English /seɪl/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlesailing
past tensesailed
past participlesailed
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] if a boat sails, it moves across the surface of a sea, lake, river etc

    The yacht sailed into harbour.

    The boat was never designed to sail such rough seas.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] to travel somewhere by boat or ship

      Sail to Greece aboard the SS Monterey.

    2. b.
      [intransitive] to begin a journey by boat or ship

      We sail for Guadalajara early tomorrow morning.

    3. c.
      [intransitive/transitive] to control the movement of a boat or ship, especially one that uses the wind to move it

      It’s a great opportunity to learn to sail.

      They spent their holiday sailing the Caribbean (=sailing a boat around the Caribbean).

  2. 2
    [intransitive] to move quickly and easily

    He sailed past us without even saying a word.

    The ball sailed over his head and into the goal.

phrasal verbs



used to describe something which is done more carefully and over a longer period of time …

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


the practice of giving birth in the presence of several friends and relatives

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play