Old English spreot "pole, pike, spear," originally "a sprout, shoot, branch," from Proto-Germanic *sprut- (see sprout (v.)). Cognate with Middle Dutch spriet, Middle Low German spryet, German Spriet, North Frisian sprit. Restricted nautical sense of "diagonal spar from a mast" is from 14c. Related: Spritsail.
updated on November 13, 2013