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verb (used without object)
  1. to cry or wail lustily.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to utter or proclaim by outcry; shout out: to bawl one's dissatisfaction; bawling his senseless ditties to the audience.
  2. to offer for sale by shouting, as a hawker: a peddler bawling his wares.
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  1. a loud shout; outcry.
  2. a period or spell of loud crying or weeping.
  3. Chiefly Midland and Western U.S. the noise made by a calf.
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Verb Phrases
  1. bawl out, Informal. to scold vociferously; reprimand or scold vigorously: Your father will bawl you out when he sees this mess.
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Origin of bawl

1400–50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin baulāre to bark < Germanic; compare Old Norse baula to low, baula cow, perhaps a conflation of belja (see bell2) with an old root *bhu-
Related formsbawl·er, nounout·bawl, verb (used with object)
Can be confusedbald balled bawledball bawl bowl


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

Related Words

weeping, groan, lament, blubbering, sobbing, wailing, crying, plaint, lamentation, bellowing

Examples from the Web for bawling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • It's for that that you're drinking and bawling inside there with your viragoes.


    Emile Zola

  • Dumbly she caught her breath, waiting for the bawling out she'd earned.

  • He waved his hand, bawling, "Put your helm down—you're forging ahead!"

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • From end to end of the room they raced, bawling and roaring at the top of their voices.

  • Next, she had her face buried in my shoulder, bawling like a hurt baby.

    Highways in Hiding

    George Oliver Smith

British Dictionary definitions for bawling


  1. (intr) to utter long loud cries, as from pain or frustration; wail
  2. to shout loudly, as in anger
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  1. a loud shout or cry
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Derived Formsbawler, nounbawling, noun

Word Origin

C15: probably from Icelandic baula to low; related to Medieval Latin baulāre to bark, Swedish böla to low; all of imitative origin
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 bawling



mid-15c., "to howl like a dog," from Old Norse baula "to low like a cow," and/or Medieval Latin baulare "to bark like a dog," both echoic. Meaning "to shout loudly" attested from 1590s. To bawl (someone) out "reprimand loudly" is 1908, American English. Related: Bawled; bawling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper