- enPR: wāl, IPA(key): /weɪl/, [weɪɫ]
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -eɪl
- Homophone: wale
- Homophone: whale (in accents with the wine-whine merger)
c. 1300, Middle English weilen, waylen (“to sob, cry, wail”), from Old Norse væla (“to wail”), from væ, vei (“woe”), from Proto-Germanic *wai (whence also Old English wā (“woe”) (English woe)), from Proto-Indo-European *wai.
The verb is first attested in the intransitive sense; the transitive sense developed in mid-14th c.. The noun came from the verb.
- (intransitive) To cry out, as in sorrow or anguish.
- (intransitive) To weep, lament persistently or bitterly.
- (intransitive) To make a noise like mourning or crying.
- The wind wailed and the rain streamed down.
- (transitive) To lament; to bewail; to grieve over.
- to wail one's death
- 1595 December 9 (first known performance), William Shakespeare, “The life and death of King Richard the Second”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act 3, scene 2]:
- My lord, wise men ne'er sit and wail their woes
- (slang, music) To perform with great liveliness and force.
- 1999, Lewis A. Erenberg, Swingin' the Dream: Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture, page 111:
- At Boston's Roseland, as "the Count's band was wailing," he grabbed Mamie, an avid dancer. The "band was screaming when she kicked off her shoes and got barefooted
- 2012, Robert Lewis Barrett, A Portrait of the First Born As a Child, page 377:
- The band was really wailing as we quickly made our dance moves in a most provocative manner.
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
wail (plural wails)
- A prolonged cry, usually high-pitched, especially as of grief or anguish. [from 15th c.]
- She let out a loud, doleful wail.
- Any similar sound as of lamentation; a howl.
- The wail of snow-dark winter winds.
- A bird's wail in the night.
- A sound made by emergency vehicle sirens, contrasted with "yelp" which is higher-pitched and faster.
- (obsolete) Synonym of
- wail in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.
- wail in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911.
- wail at OneLook Dictionary Search
- James T. Collins, The Historical Relationships of the Languages of Central Maluku, Indonesia (1983), page 70