or ban·shie

[ban-shee, ban-shee]


(in Irish folklore) a spirit in the form of a wailing woman who appears to or is heard by members of a family as a sign that one of them is about to die.

Origin of banshee

1765–75; < Irish bean sīdhe woman of a fairy mound; see sídh Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for banshee

Contemporary Examples of banshee

Historical Examples of banshee

  • He marched his men up, with the thin wailing of a banshee in his ears.

    Police Your Planet

    Lester del Rey

  • But that was the last act of destruction that the Banshee was destined to accomplish.

  • Presently he heard the long-drawn, quavering, banshee wail of a locomotive.

  • The Banshee corked the bottle and held it up proudly to the light.

    David and the Phoenix

    Edward Ormondroyd

  • Yes, it surely must be the banshee, and what does it forebode?

    The Heir of Kilfinnan

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for banshee



(in Irish folklore) a female spirit whose wailing warns of impending death

Word Origin for banshee

C18: from Irish Gaelic bean sídhe, literally: woman of the fairy mound
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 banshee

1771, from phonetic spelling of Irish bean sidhe "female of the Elves," from bean "woman" (from PIE *gwen-; see queen) + sidhe, from sith "fairy" or sid "fairy mound." Specifically, one who calls to the spirits of the dead.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper