To bring a sailing vessel to a stop with its sails still set. In the case of square-rigged ships this was achieved by bracing the yards on the foremast aback to counter the effect of those that were still drawing; in the case of a vessel with a fore-and-aft rig it was achieved by bringing it head to wind. The term is also often used when forcing another vessel to stop by firing a shot across its bows (see also heave to, to). When anchoring, the correct term is to bring a ship to an anchor, because in the days of sail it was usual to bring to for anchoring by laying the foresails aback to take way off the ship.
Subjects: Maritime History.