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bail1

[beyl]Law.
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noun
  1. property or money given as surety that a person released from custody will return at an appointed time.
  2. the person who agrees to be liable if someone released from custody does not return at an appointed time.
  3. the state of release upon being bailed.
  4. on bail, released or free as a result of having posted bond: He was out on bail within 10 hours of his arrest.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to grant or obtain the liberty of (a person under arrest) on security given for his or her appearance when required, as in court for trial.
  2. to deliver possession of (goods) for storage, hire, or other special purpose, without transfer of ownership.
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Idioms
  1. go/stand bail for, to provide bail for: They spent the night in jail because no one would stand bail for them.
  2. jump bail, to abscond while free on bail: The suspect jumped bail and is now being sought.
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Origin of bail1

1375–1425; late Middle English bayle < Anglo-French bail custody, charge < Old French, noun derivative of baillier to hand over < Latin bāiulāre to serve as porter verbal derivative of bāiulus porter, perhaps an Imperial Latin borrowing from Moesia < *ba(r)i̯- carry (akin to Albanian m-ba hold) < *bhor-i̯-; see bear1

bail2

or bale

[beyl]
noun
  1. the semicircular handle of a kettle or pail.
  2. a hooplike support, as for the canvas cover on a Conestoga wagon.
  3. a metal band or bar equipped with rollers for holding a sheet or sheets of paper against the platen of a printing press, typewriter, etc.
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Origin of bail2

1400–50; late Middle English beyl, perhaps < Old Norse; compare Old Norse beyglast to become bent, equivalent to baug(r) ring (see bee2) + *-il noun suffix + -ast middle infinitive suffix

bail3

[beyl]
verb (used with object)
  1. to dip (water) out of a boat, as with a bucket.
  2. to clear of water by dipping (usually followed by out): to bail out a boat.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to bail water.
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noun
  1. Also bail·er. a bucket, dipper, or other container used for bailing.
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Verb Phrases
  1. bail out,
    1. to make a parachute jump from an airplane.
    2. to relieve or assist (a person, company, etc.) in an emergency situation, especially a financial crisis: The corporation bailed out its failing subsidiary through a series of refinancing operations.
    3. to give up on or abandon something, as to evade a responsibility: His partner bailed out before the business failed.
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Also bale (for defs 1–3).

Origin of bail3

1425–75; late Middle English bayle < Middle French baille a bucket < Vulgar Latin *bāi(u)la; akin to Latin bāiulus carrier. See bail1

bail4

[beyl]
noun
  1. Cricket. either of the two small bars or sticks laid across the tops of the stumps which form the wicket.
  2. British, Australian. a bar, framework, partition, or the like, for confining or separating cows, horses, etc., in a stable.
  3. bails, Obsolete. the wall of an outer court of a feudal castle.
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Verb Phrases
  1. bail up, Australian.
    1. to confine a cow for milking, as in a bail.
    2. to force (one) to surrender or identify oneself or to state one's business.
    3. to waylay or rob (someone).
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Idioms
  1. bail up! Australian. (the cry of challenge of a pioneer or person living in the bush.)
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Origin of bail4

1350–1400; Middle English baile < Old French < Latin bacula, plural of baculum stick
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for bail

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He had himself been obliged to bail out three times, running in from the reef.

    Malbone

    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • You expect me to bail you out—clean up your debts—put you clear?

    The Big Tomorrow

    Paul Lohrman

  • Bail was denied to Marsh, Vasca and Joe, and for them a speedy trial was urged.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Like a malefactor out on bail, he was painting a picture for the future.

  • De Launay whispered an intimation that he was interested in the bail suggestion.

    Louisiana Lou

    William West Winter


British Dictionary definitions for bail

bail1

noun
  1. a sum of money by which a person is bound to take responsibility for the appearance in court of another person or himself or herself, forfeited if the person fails to appear
  2. the person or persons so binding themselves; surety
  3. the system permitting release of a person from custody where such security has been takenhe was released on bail
  4. jump bail or formal forfeit bail to fail to appear in court to answer to a charge
  5. stand bail or go bail to act as surety (for someone)
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verb (tr)
  1. (often foll by out) to release or obtain the release of (a person) from custody, security having been made
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See also bail out

Word Origin

C14: from Old French: custody, from baillier to hand over, from Latin bāiulāre to carry burdens, from bāiulus carrier, of obscure origin

bail2

bale

verb
  1. (often foll by out) to remove (water) from (a boat)
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Derived Formsbailer or baler, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French baille bucket, from Latin bāiulus carrier

bail3

noun
  1. cricket either of two small wooden bars placed across the tops of the stumps to form the wicket
  2. agriculture
    1. a partition between stalls in a stable or barn, for horses
    2. a portable dairy house built on wheels or skids
  3. Australian and NZ a framework in a cowshed used to secure the head of a cow during milking
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verb
  1. See bail up
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Word Origin

C18: from Old French baile stake, fortification, probably from Latin baculum stick

bail4

bale

noun
  1. the semicircular handle of a kettle, bucket, etc
  2. a semicircular support for a canopy
  3. a movable bar on a typewriter that holds the paper against the platen
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Word Origin

C15: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse beygja to bend
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bail

n.1

"bond money," late 15c., a sense that apparently developed from that of "temporary release from jail" (into the custody of another, who gives security), recorded from early 15c. That evolved from earlier meaning "captivity, custody" (early 14c.). From Old French baillier "to control, to guard, deliver" (12c.), from Latin bajulare "to bear a burden," from bajulus "porter," of unknown origin. In late 18c. criminal slang, to give leg bail meant "to run away."

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v.1

"to dip water out of," 1610s, from baile (n.) "small wooden bucket" (mid-14c.), from nautical Old French baille "bucket, pail," from Medieval Latin *bajula (aquae), literally "porter of water," from Latin bajulare "to bear a burden" (see bail (n.1)). To bail out "leave suddenly" (intransitive) is recorded from 1930, originally of airplane pilots. Related: Bailed; bailing.

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n.2

"horizontal piece of wood in a cricket wicket," c.1742, originally "any cross bar" (1570s), probably identical with Middle French bail "horizontal piece of wood affixed on two stakes," and with English bail "palisade wall, outer wall of a castle" (see bailey).

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v.2

"to procure someone's release from prison" (by posting bail), 1580s, from bail (n.1); usually with out. Related: Bailed; bailing.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bail

bail

In addition to the idiom beginning with bail

also see:

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.