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mizzen (n.)

"aftermost fore-and-aft sail of a three-masted ship," early 15c., mesan, via French misaine "foresail, foremast," altered (by influence of Italian mezzana "mizzen") from Old French migenne, from Catalan mitjana, from Latin medianus "of the middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle").

The sense of the English and Italian words agree, but the etymology is off because the "middle" mast on a ship is the mainmast. Perhaps it refers to a sail of "middle" size, or the thing described changed. Klein suggests an alternate etymology of the French word, from Arabic via Italian. The mizzen-mast (late 15c.) supports the mizzen-sail.

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Definitions of mizzen from WordNet

mizzen (n.)
third mast from the bow in a vessel having three or more masts; the after and shorter mast of a yawl, ketch, or dandy;
Synonyms: mizzenmast / mizenmast / mizen
mizzen (n.)
fore-and-aft sail set on the mizzenmast;
Synonyms: mizen
From wordnet.princeton.edu