Last modified on 28 June 2014, at 17:25




From Middle English vailen (to be of use), from Old French valoir (to be worth), from Latin valeō (I am worth).



avail (third-person singular simple present avails, present participle availing, simple past and past participle availed)

  1. (transitive, often reflexive) To turn to the advantage of.
    I availed myself of the opportunity.
  2. (transitive) To be of service to.
    Artifices will not avail the sinner in the day of judgment.
  3. (transitive) To promote; to assist.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Alexander Pope to this entry?)
  4. (intransitive) To be of use or advantage; to answer or serve the purpose; to have strength, force, or efficacy sufficient to accomplish the object.
    The plea in court must avail.
    This scheme will not avail.
    Medicines will not avail to halt the disease.
    • Sir Walter Scott
      Words avail very little with me, young man.
  5. (India, Africa, elsewhere proscribed) To provide; to make available.
    • 2004 November 16, Nik Ogbulie, “Decongesting the Banking Floors”:
      With this initiative, Valucard becomes an open system that is not limited to point of sale (POS) transactions, but now avails cash to its holders in various locations nationwide.


Derived termsEdit

Related termsEdit



avail (plural avails)

  1. (obsolete) Benefit; value, profit; advantage toward success. [15th-19th c.]
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I:
      For I wold haue the swerd more for your auaylle than for myne, for I am passyng heuy for your sake.
    • Jeremy Taylor
      the avail of a deathbed repentance
    • 1895, Andrew Lang, A Monk of Fife:
      So this friar, unworthy as he was of his holy calling, had me at an avail on every side, nor do I yet see what I could do but obey him, as I did.
  2. Effect in achieving a goal or aim; purpose, use (now usually in negative constructions). [from 15th c.]
    I tried fixing it, to no avail.
    Labor, without economy, is of little avail.
  3. (now only US) Proceeds; profits from business transactions. [from 15th c.]
    • Stoddard
      the avails of their own industry
  4. (obsolete, poetic) Effort; striving.
    • 1613, Thomas Campion, “Songs of Mourning”, in Poetical Works (in English) of Thomas Campion[1], published 1907, page 125:
      And ev'n now, though he breathless lies, his sails / Are struggling with the winds, for our avails / T'explore a passage hid from human tract, / Will fame him in the enterprise or fact.
  5. (television, advertising) An advertising slot or package.
    • 1994, Barry L. Sherman, Telecommunications Management: Broadcasting/cable and the New Technologies[2], ISBN 0070566984, page 353:
      The salesperson at an affiliate TV station might prepare an avail which offers two weeks of spots in early and late news []
    • 2004, Walter S. Ciciora et al., Modern Cable Television Technology: Video, Voice, and Data Communications[3], ISBN 1558608281, page 123:
      At an avail, the ad server plays out the MPEG-2 audio/video elementary streams.
  6. (US, politics, journalism) A press avail.
    While holding an avail yesterday, the candidate lashed out at critics.
  7. (UK, acting) Non-binding notice of availability for work.
  8. (oil industry) A readily available stock of oil.
    • 1967, Interstate Compact on Oil and Gas (10th Extension)[4], page 95:
      Total crude oil avails (production plus purchases) of even highly "self-sufficient" refiners are far greater than their reported refinery inputs.

Usage notesEdit

  • (success or benefit): Very often encountered in negative phrases, such as of or to no or little avail.