See also: Quail



Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English quaylen, from Middle Dutch queilen, quēlen, from Old Dutch *quelan, from Proto-West Germanic *kwelan, from Proto-Germanic *kwelaną (to suffer). Doublet of queal.

Alternative formsEdit


quail (third-person singular simple present quails, present participle quailing, simple past and past participle quailed)

  1. (intransitive) To waste away; to fade, to wither. [from 15th c.]
  2. (transitive, now rare) To daunt or frighten (someone). [from 16th c.]
  3. (intransitive) To lose heart or courage; to be daunted or fearful. [from 16th c.]
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, “A Quarrel about an Heiress”, in Vanity Fair, London: Bradbury and Evans  [], published 1848, OCLC 3174108, page 183:
      Though George had stopped in his sentence, yet, his blood being up, he was not to be cowed by all the generations of Osborne; rallying instantly, he replied to the bullying look of his father, with another so indicative of resolution and defiance, that the elder man quailed in his turn, and looked away.
    • 1886 January 5, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Carew Murder Case”, in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 762755901, page 39:
      Mr. Utterson had already quailed at the name of Hyde; but when the stick was laid before him, he could doubt no longer: broken and battered as it was, he recognized it for one that he had himself presented many years before to Henry Jekyll.
    • 1904, Seymour S. Tibbals, The Puritans or The Captain of Plymouth: A Comic Opera in Three Acts, [Franklin, Oh.]: Seymour S. Tibbals, OCLC 20218813, Act II, scene i, page 13:
      Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible winter. Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger one to lean on; so I have come to you now, with an offer of marriage.
    • 1949 June 8, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 2, in Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel, London: Secker & Warburg, OCLC 690663892; republished [Australia]: Project Gutenberg of Australia, August 2001, part 1, page 27:
      The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of the Ministry of Truth, with the light no longer shining on them, looked grim as the loopholes of a fortress. His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too strong, it could not be stormed.
    • 2016 February 20, “Obituary: Antonin Scalia: Always right”, in The Economist[1]:
      His colleagues quailed when, in 1986, he first sat on the court as a brash 50-year-old whose experience had been mostly as a combative government lawyer: a justice who, in that sanctum of columns and deep judicial silence, was suddenly firing questions like grapeshot.
  4. (intransitive) Of courage, faith, etc.: to slacken, to give way. [from 16th c.]

Etymology 2Edit

English Wikipedia has an article on:
The common quail (Coturnix coturnix)

From Middle English quayle, quaile, quaille, from Anglo-Norman quaille, from Late Latin quaccola (quail).


quail (plural quails or quail)

  1. Any of various small game birds of the genera Coturnix, Anurophasis or Perdicula in the Old World family Phasianidae or of the New World family Odontophoridae.
    • 1954, Wildlife Review (issues 75-83, page 44)
      Quail require little water, so there is no point to putting in a guzzler if there is any permanent water within travel range.
  2. (uncountable) The meat from this bird eaten as food.
  3. (obsolete) A prostitute, so called because the quail was thought to be a very amorous bird.
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 3Edit

From Middle English quaylen, qwaylen, from Old French quaillier, coaillier, from Latin coāgulāre. Doublet of coagulate.


quail (third-person singular simple present quails, present participle quailing, simple past and past participle quailed)

  1. (obsolete) To curdle or coagulate, as milk does.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for quail in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913)