"piece of shaped cloth spread so as to catch the wind and cause a vessel to move in water," Old English segl "sail, veil, curtain," from Proto-Germanic *seglom (source also of Old Saxon, Swedish segel, Old Norse segl, Old Frisian seil, Dutch zeil, Old High German segal, German Segel), of obscure origin with no known cognates outside Germanic (Irish seol, Welsh hwyl "sail" are Germanic loan-words). In some sources (Klein, OED) referred to PIE root *sek- "to cut," as if meaning "a cut piece of cloth."
As "a single ship or vessel" by 1510s. To take the wind out of (someone's) sails (1888) is to deprive (someone) of the means of progress, especially by sudden and unexpected action, "as by one vessel sailing between the wind and another vessel" ["The Encyclopaedic Dictionary," 1888].
Old English seglinge, "act of one who or that which sails," verbal noun from the source of sail (v.). Gradually coming also to mean "the art or rules of directing a ship." Figurative use of smooth sailing for "easy progress" is from 1840.
Yes; I must press on this marriage; Georgina has not wit enough to manage him—at least till he's her husband, and then all women find it smooth sailing. [Bulwer Lytton, "Money: A Comedy in Five Acts," 1840]
c. 1400, sailer, "one who sails," agent noun from sail (v.). The spelling with -o-, erroneous but now established, arose 16c., probably by influence of tailor, etc., and to distinguish the meaning "seaman, mariner" from "thing that sails."
It replaced much older seaman and mariner (q.q.v.), and its later appearance is perhaps to avoid confusion with common Middle English saillour, sailer "dancer, tumbler, acrobat" (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French sailleor (from Latin salire "to leap"). Old English also had merefara "sailor."
Applied as an adjective from 1870s to clothing styles and items based on a tailor's view of a sailor's characteristic attire. Vulgar extended form sailorman is by 1761. Sailor's purse "egg pouch of a ray or shark" is so called by 1874; it is typically empty when found on shore.
"to cross oneself; to mark or bless with the sign of the cross," Old English segnian, from Latin signare "to sign, mark, distinguish" (in Church Latin and Medieval Latin "to make the sign of the Cross"); see sign (n.). A common Germanic borrowing, cognate with Old Saxon segnon, Dutch zegenen, Old High German seganon, German segnen "to bless," Old Norse signa. Century Dictionary (1889) marks it "Obsolete or Scotch."
early 12c. as an adjective, seinte, "holy, divinely inspired, worthy of worship," used before proper names (Sainte Marian Magdalene, etc.), from Old French saint, seinte "holy, pious, devout," from Latin sanctus "holy, consecrated," past participle of sancire "consecrate" (see sacred). It displaced or altered Old Englishsanct, which is directly from Latin sanctus.
From an adjective prefixed to the name of a canonized person, it came to be used in English by c. 1200 as a noun, "a specific canonized Christian," also "one of the elect, a member of the body of Christ, one consecrated or set apart to the service of God," also in an Old Testament sense "a pre-Christian prophet."
It is attested by late 13c. as "moral or virtuous person, one who is pure or upright in heart and life."
The adjectives also were used as nouns in Late Latin and Old French: "a saint; a holy relic." The Latin word also is the source of Spanish santo, santa, Italian san, etc., and also ultimately the source of the word in most Germanic languages (Old Frisian sankt, Dutch sint, German Sanct).
Perhaps you have imagined that this humility in the saints is a pious illusion at which God smiles. That is a most dangerous error. It is theoretically dangerous, because it makes you identify a virtue (i.e., a perfection) with an illusion (i.e., an imperfection), which must be nonsense. It is practically dangerous because it encourages a man to mistake his first insights into his own corruption for the first beginnings of a halo round his own silly head. No, depend upon it; when the saints say that they—even they—are vile, they are recording truth with scientific accuracy. [C.S. Lewis, "The Problem of Pain," 1940]
"to enroll (someone) among the saints," c. 1200, in beon isontet "be sainted," from saint (n.) or from Old French santir. Related: Sainted; sainting.