English

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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From Middle English wraulen, wrawlen (cry like a cat; roar). Compare Danish vræle, vråle, Swedish vråla (to bellow; roar; howl; yell).

Pronunciation

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Verb

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waul (third-person singular simple present wauls, present participle wauling, simple past and past participle wauled)

  1. To wail, to cry plaintively.
    • c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene vi]:
      Thou know’st, the first time that we smell the air, / We waul, and cry.
    • 1850, Sylvester Judd, Richard Edney and the Governor's Family, page 298:
      The Catapult wauled, "What if some poor man's dog was saved, — it was his comfort and defence; — he shared with the faithful creature his bread and butter: and when he dies, who watches his grave, — who, if we may so say, sheds a tear for the departed? — who, who, but his dog? [] "
    • 2004, Michael Cisco, The San Veneficio Canon, page 75:
      A cattish ghost-familiar wauls from a monument's bronze shoulder, seeing him see it, and he shrieks back in its own language, pulling a face so horrible that pedestrians scatter out of his path, their white cottons flapping.
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