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From French râle (groan).



rale (plural rales)

  1. (medicine, now chiefly in plural) An abnormal clicking, rattling or crackling sound, made by one or both lungs and heard with a stethoscope, caused by the popping open of airways collapsed by fluid or exudate, or sometimes by pulmonary edema.
    • 1840, CM Billard, A Treatise on the Diseases of Infants, page 416:
      Michael Colot, aged fifteen days, of a strong constitution, not having been sick from the time of birth, was, on the 22nd of November, taken with a violent cough, accompanied with a rale which could be heard without recourse to auscultation.
    • 1861, Austin Flint, American Medical Times, 7 Dec 1961:
      If you were to tell a patient that he had a ‘rhonchus’ in his chest, he would imagine that it was something formidable, while, if you said that he had a ‘râle’ he would not be alarmed.
    • 1894, Arthur Conan Doyle, Round Red Lamp:
      But after all the educated classes have a right to expect that their medical man will know the difference between a mitral murmur and a bronchitic rale.


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