We say:

I drive a car/taxi/truck etc

I ride a bike/motorbike/horse.

I row a boat.

The dictionary says:

sail: to control a ship or boat (especially one that has sails) while traveling on water.

She's sailing a boat in tomorrow's race.

The ship was sailed by a crew of 8.

The dictionary says "especially one that has sails", does it mean we only use "sail" with boats / ships with a sail?

There are some boats (see the below pictures) that use engine and I don't know what they are called.

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Can I use the verb "I sail a boat" when the boat does not have a sail but an engine?

  • The upper picture shows a motor boat. RMS Titanic was powered by steam engines. Aug 1 at 7:25

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can sail a boat that has no sails. Lexico has


1.1 Travel in a ship or boat using sails or engine power. [my bolding]
the ferry caught fire sailing between Caen and Portsmouth

1.2 Begin a voyage; leave a harbour.
the catamaran sails at 3:30

1.3 Travel by ship on or across (a sea) or on (a route)
plastic ships could be sailing the oceans soon

1.4 Navigate or control (a boat or ship)
I stole a small fishing boat and sailed it to the Delta

The verb can be used in other senses too

2 Move smoothly and rapidly or in a stately or confident manner.
She sailed across the room
I sailed through my examinations
The ball sailed through the air

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