Try Our Apps


WATCH "Lumbersexual"


[veyl] /veɪl/
a piece of opaque or transparent material worn over the face for concealment, for protection from the elements, or to enhance the appearance.
a piece of material worn so as to fall over the head and shoulders on each side of the face, forming a part of the headdress of a nun.
the life of a nun, especially a cloistered life.
something that covers, separates, screens, or conceals:
a veil of smoke; the veil of death.
a mask, disguise, or pretense:
to find fault under a veil of humor.
Botany, Anatomy, Zoology. a velum.
Mycology. a membrane that covers the immature mushroom of many fungi and breaks apart as the mushroom expands, leaving distinctive remnants on the cap, stalk, or stalk base.
Scot. and North England. a caul.
verb (used with object)
to cover or conceal with or as with a veil:
She veiled her face in black. A heavy fog veiled the shoreline.
to hide the real nature of; mask; disguise:
to veil one's intentions.
verb (used without object)
to don or wear a veil:
In certain Islamic countries women must veil.
take the veil, to become a nun.
Origin of veil
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English veile < Anglo-French < Latin vēla, neuter plural (taken in VL as feminine singular) of vēlum covering; (v.) Middle English veilen < Anglo-French veiler, derivative of veile
Related forms
veilless, adjective
veillike, adjective
Can be confused
vale, veil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for veil
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Then he rushed on and passed behind the veil and stood within the shrine.

    The World's Desire H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang
  • She had her veil down, and she did not want to stop, evidently, mamma.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • When all was ready we found her in the diligence, with her veil down as before.

    The Poacher Frederick Marryat
  • A veil covered her head, and Thor scarce knew that this was Sif, his wife.

    The Children of Odin Padraic Colum
  • I will draw a veil over the proceedings of the next few minutes.

    Cobb's Anatomy Irvin S. Cobb
British Dictionary definitions for veil


a piece of more or less transparent material, usually attached to a hat or headdress, used to conceal or protect a woman's face and head
part of a nun's headdress falling round the face onto the shoulders
something that covers, conceals, or separates; mask: a veil of reticence
the veil, the life of a nun in a religious order and the obligations entailed by it
take the veil, to become a nun
(botany) Also called velum. a membranous structure, esp the thin layer of cells connecting the edge of a young mushroom cap with the stipe
(anatomy) another word for caul
(transitive) to cover, conceal, or separate with or as if with a veil
(intransitive) to wear or put on a veil
Derived Forms
veiler, noun
veilless, adjective
veil-like, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Norman French veile, from Latin vēla sails, pl of vēlum a covering


/French vaɪl/
Simone (Annie) (simɔn). born 1927, French stateswoman; president of the European Parliament (1979–82): a survivor of Nazi concentration camps
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for veil

early 13c., from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (Old French voile) "a head-covering," also "a sail," from Latin vela, plural of velum "sail, curtain, covering," from PIE root *weg- "to weave a web." Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil "become a nun" is attested from early 14c.


late 14c., from Old French veler, voiller, from Latin velare "to cover, veil," from velum (see veil (n.)). Figurative sense of "to conceal" (something immaterial) is recorded from 1530s. Related: Veiled; veiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
veil in Medicine

veil (vāl)

  1. See caul.

  2. See velum.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
veil in Science
A membranous covering or part, especially a membrane surrounding the young mushrooms of certain basidiomycete fungi. In some species the membrane (called a partial veil) extends only from the stalk to the cap. As the cap expands, the veil breaks, leaving a ring called an annulus on the stalk and often scalelike pieces on the cap. These veil remnants are important for identifying species of mushrooms.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Idioms and Phrases with veil


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for veil

Most English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for veil

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for veil