- a salutation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a cup of drink or when drinking to the person.
- a festivity or revel with drinking of healths.
- liquor for drinking and wishing health to others on festive occasions, especially spiced ale, as on Christmas Eve and Twelfth-night.
- Archaic. a song sung in wassailing.
- to revel with drinking.
- to drink to the health or success of; toast.
Origin of wassail
Examples from the Web for wassail
Wassail is equivalent to the phrase, "Your health," of the present day.
Wassail and Drinkhail are both derived from the Anglo-Saxon.
The rafters of the great living-room shook with the roar of wassail and of song.Lost Face
The wassail bowl was a triumph, and the candle of Mr. Pickwick was put out.Peter and Jane
S. (Sarah) Macnaughtan
It was past midnight when I withdrew from the scene of wassail.The Rifle Rangers
Captain Mayne Reid
- (formerly) a toast or salutation made to a person at festivities
- a festivity when much drinking takes place
- alcoholic drink drunk at such a festivity, esp spiced beer or mulled wine
- the singing of Christmas carols, going from house to house
- archaic a drinking song
- to drink the health of (a person) at a wassail
- (intr) to go from house to house singing carols at Christmas
Word Origin and History for wassail
mid-12c., from Old Norse ves heill "be healthy," a salutation, from ves, imperative of vesa "to be" (see was) + heill "healthy" (see health). Use as a drinking phrase appears to have arisen among Danes in England and spread to native inhabitants. A similar formation appears in Old English wes þu hal, but this is not recorded as a drinking salutation. Sense extended c.1300 to "liquor in which healths were drunk," especially spiced ale used in Christmas Eve celebrations. Meaning "a carousal, reveling" first attested c.1600. Wassailing "custom of going caroling house to house at Christmas time" is recorded from 1742.