1 The name given to the luff of a sail of a vessel with a fore-and-aft rig; the distance which it must be hoisted to get a taut luff. In a square sail it is the depth of the sail measured from its midpoint.
2 That part of a flag or ensign which lies along the flagstaff and to which the halyards are bent.
3 The lift which carries a shell from a ship's magazine to the gun from which it is to be fired.
4 As a verb, the operation of hauling something up, particularly a sail or a flag, though the word is used in connection with most things which have to be lifted. An exception is a yard of a square-rigged ship which is swayed up, never hoisted.