Word Confusion: Sail versus Sale

Posted December 26, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 10 October 2017

It was only fair that I include “Sail versus Sale” once “Sale versus Sell” appeared. It isn’t a word confusion that comes about that often but when the gaffe is made, you’ll find yourself falling off and having to set a new course with the proper word lest your reputation capsize!

Yep, I had fun with this one…*giggle*…! Too bad sale got short shrift, but I’m sure the after-Christmas sales will make up for it…*grin*…

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Sail Sale
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Mir Sailing Ship” is Mz’s own work and in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

“Christmas Sale” courtesy of JMart in Port Moresby, Guinea

Part of Grammar:
Noun 1;
Verb, intransitive & transitive 2

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: sails
Past tense or past participle: sailed
Gerund or present participle: sailing

Plural: sales
A piece of material extended on a mast to catch the wind and propel a boat, ship, or other vessel

  • The use of sailing ships as a means of transport
  • [In singular] A voyage or excursion in a ship, especially a sailing ship or boat
  • [Archaic] A sailing ship

Something resembling a sail in shape or function, in particular:

  • A wind-catching apparatus, typically one consisting of canvas or a set of boards, attached to the arm of a windmill
  • The broad fin on the back of a sailfish or of some prehistoric reptiles
  • A structure by which an animal is propelled across the surface of water by the wind, e.g., the float of a Portuguese man-of-war
  • The conning tower of a submarine

Verb, intransitive:
Travel in a boat with sails, especially as a sport or recreation

  • [With adverbial] Travel in a ship or boat using sails or engine power
  • [With adverbial] Begin a voyage
  • Leave a harbor

[With adverbial of direction] Move smoothly and rapidly or in a stately or confident manner

  • [Sail through; informal] Succeed easily at something, especially a test or examination)
  • [Sail into; informal] Attack physically or verbally with force

Verb, transitive:
Travel in a boat with sails, especially as a sport or recreation

  • Travel by ship on or across (a sea) or on (a route)
  • Navigate or control (a boat or ship)
Exchange of a commodity for money
Action of selling something

  • [Sales] A quantity or amount sold
  • [Sales] The activity or business of selling products

An event for the rapid disposal of goods at reduced prices for a period, especially at the end of a season

  • [Often with modifier] A public or charitable event at which goods are sold
  • A public auction
All the sails were unfurled.

The ship’s sails were torn and ragged.

“Hoist sail, me hearties,” he cried.

They went for a sail.

Sail ahoy!

Verb, intransitive:
We sailed across the Atlantic.

Ian took us out sailing on the lake.
You can learn to sail here.

The ferry caught fire sailing between Caen and Portsmouth.

The catamaran sails at 3:30.

She sailed into the conference room at 2:30 sharp.

Alex sailed through his exams.

Verb, transitive:
Plastic ships could be sailing the oceans soon.

I stole a small fishing boat and sailed it to the Delta.

We sail tonight.

He is sailing the ship.

Clouds were sailing past.

A pencil sailed past his ear.

We withdrew it from sale.

The sale has fallen through.

Price cuts failed to boost sales.

He’s the new director of sales and marketing

They held a clearance sale yesterday.

The November issue is on sale now.

We’ve put the house up for sale.

Harvey’s is having a white sale!

Adjective: sailable, sailless, unsailable, unsailed
Noun: sailor
Noun: intersale, nonsale, subsale
History of the Word:
Old English segel 1, seglian 2 is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch zeil and the German Segel nouns. Late Old English sala from the Old Norse sala is of Germanic origin.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Sailboat 2Krona by Ankalole and 14 06 02 Property For Sale Sign in Mamaroneck, New York, by ReubenGBrewer’s is their own individual work; both are under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons. No, I very much doubt this property is still for sale.