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[weyl] /weɪl/
verb (used without object)
to utter a prolonged, inarticulate, mournful cry, usually high-pitched or clear-sounding, as in grief or suffering:
to wail with pain.
to make mournful sounds, as music or the wind.
to lament or mourn bitterly.
Jazz. to perform exceptionally well.
Slang. to express emotion musically or verbally in an exciting, satisfying way.
verb (used with object)
to express deep sorrow for; mourn; lament; bewail:
to wail the dead; to wail one's fate.
to express in wailing; cry or say in lamentation:
to wail one's grief.
the act of wailing.
a wailing cry, as of grief, pain, or despair.
any similar mournful sound:
the wail of an old tune.
Origin of wail
1300-50; Middle English weile (v. and noun), perhaps derivative of Old English weilā(wei) well-away; compare Old English wǣlan to torment, Old Norse wǣla to wail
Related forms
wailer, noun
wailingly, adverb
unwailed, adjective
unwailing, adjective
Can be confused
wail, whale. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wailed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The boy held out his hands and wailed for his father, but none paid any heed to him.

    The Countess of Charny Alexandre Dumas (pere)
  • She sat on a rock and wept and wailed and was very miserable.

    The Lost Princess of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • Toto crouched beside his mistress and wailed as if he did not like these strange creatures a bit.

    The Patchwork Girl of Oz L. Frank Baum
  • But still he wailed, and kicked with his legs, and refused to be comforted.

    The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
  • "I can't think how I came to carry it away with me," wailed Janet.

    The Windy Hill Cornelia Meigs
  • I wailed, for the hammers were riotous again, “what has she?”

    Great Britain at War Jeffery Farnol
British Dictionary definitions for wailed


(intransitive) to utter a prolonged high-pitched cry, as of grief or misery
(intransitive) to make a sound resembling such a cry: the wind wailed in the trees
(transitive) to lament, esp with mournful sounds
a prolonged high-pitched mournful cry or sound
Derived Forms
wailer, noun
wailful, adjective
wailfully, adverb
Word Origin
C14: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse vǣla to wail, Old English woe
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
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Word Origin and History for wailed



early 14c., from Old Norse væla "to lament," from "woe" (see woe). Of jazz musicians, "to play very well," attested from 1955, American English slang (wailing "excellent" is attested from 1954). Related: Wailed.


c.1400; see wail (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wailed



  1. To play jazz well and feelingly: We were wailing, but nobody had a tape machine (1930s+ Jazz musicians)
  2. (also whale) To do very well; perform well (1950s+ College students fr cool talk fr jazz musicians)

[fr the notion of a well-performed blues number, with its melodious lamentations]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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