YAWL, the name of a special rig of small sailing vessels or yachts, with two masts, the mainmast cutter-rigged, and a . small mizzen stepped far aft with a spanker or driving sail. The name has also been applied to a small ship's boat rowed with tour or more oars. The word is apparently an adaptation of the Dutch jol, skiff.
The English" " jolly-boat," a small bluff-bowed, wide-transomed ship's boat, swung at the stern of a vessel for ready use, is probably a corruption of the Danish form of the word jolle. Other authorities take it to be a corruption of a late 15th-century jolywat, a small ship's boat, which is supposed to represent galiote, galliot (see GALLEY). A galliot, however, was never a small boat, but an independent vessel propelled by oars or sails.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)