AskDefine | Define brail

Dictionary Definition



1 a small net used to draw fish into a boat
2 a small rope (one of several) used to draw a sail in


1 take in a sail with a brail
2 haul fish aboard with brails

User Contributed Dictionary



Old French braiel, from mediæval Latin bracale ‘girdle’ (from bracae ‘breeches’).


IPA: /bɹeɪl/


brail (usually in plural)
  1. a small rope used to truss up sails


  1. to haul up a sail using the brails
    • 1993: The winds blew at their own caprice and there was brailing and loosing of canvas. — Anthony Burgess, A Dead Man in Deptford

Extensive Definition

For the tactile alphabet, see Braille.
Brails, in a ship, are small ropes passing through pulleys, and used to haul in or up the leeches, bottoms, or corners of sails, before furling . These brails belong only to the two courses and the mizzen sail. The command is, hale up the brails, or, brail up the sails .


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