• synonyms


See more synonyms for ailing on Thesaurus.com
  1. sickly; unwell.
  2. unsound or troubled: a financially ailing corporation.
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Origin of ailing

First recorded in 1590–1600; ail + -ing2


verb (used with object)
  1. to cause pain, uneasiness, or trouble to.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to be unwell; feel pain; be ill: He's been ailing for some time.
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Origin of ail

before 950; Middle English ail, eilen, Old English eglan to afflict (cognate with Middle Low German egelen annoy, Gothic -agljan), derivative of egle painful; akin to Gothic agls shameful, Sanskrit aghám evil, pain
Can be confusedale ail awl

Synonyms for ail

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for ailing

diseased, sickly, ill, weak, feeble, debilitated, indisposed, down, sick, enfeebled, wasting, rocky, unwell

Examples from the Web for ailing

Contemporary Examples of ailing

Historical Examples of ailing

  • She had been ailing for a month, and now she was down with a temperature.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The joy of the meeting was making them forget the ailing stranger.

  • He was decorated again and given the battlewagon of an ailing four-striper.

    The Adventurer

    Cyril M. Kornbluth

  • At all events, she had for some time been ailing, and had finally been removed to the hospital.


    Emile Zola

  • Then, on hearing that his mother was ailing, even in danger, he become serious and anxious.


    Emile Zola

British Dictionary definitions for ailing


  1. unwell or unsuccessful
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  1. (tr) to trouble; afflict
  2. (intr) to feel unwell
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Word Origin for ail

Old English eglan to trouble, from egle troublesome, painful, related to Gothic agls shameful
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 ailing



c.1300, from Old English eglan "to trouble, plague, afflict," from Proto-Germanic *azljaz (cf. Old English egle "hideous, loathsome, troublesome, painful;" Gothic agls "shameful, disgraceful," agliþa "distress, affliction, hardship," us-agljan "to oppress, afflict"), from PIE *agh-lo-, suffixed form of root *agh- "to be depressed, be afraid." Related: Ailed; ailing; ails.

It is remarkable, that this word is never used but with some indefinite term, or the word no thing; as What ails him? ... Thus we never say, a fever ails him. [Johnson]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper