the amount filling a pail.

Origin of pail

before 1000; Middle English payle wooden container, continuing Old English pægel wine container, liquid measure (of unknown orig.; compare Middle Dutch, Low German pegel half pint), by association with Old French paielle pan < Latin patella; see patella
Can be confusedpale pail

Regional variation note

1. See bucket. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for pail

pot, container, jug, canister, bucket, vessel, receptacle, can, piggin

Examples from the Web for pail

Contemporary Examples of pail

Historical Examples of pail

  • He disappeared only to return with a pail of cold water to temper the first.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • This man asked me where I was bound with my pail, and I told him.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Take it out with a wooden ladle, and put it into a small tub or pail.

  • Then he went forward, and drew the pail from Amelia's unwilling grasp.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • But the others could find no fault with it, and Sereno drained the pail.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

British Dictionary definitions for pail



a bucket, esp one made of wood or metal
Also called: pailful the quantity that fills a pail

Word Origin for pail

Old English pægel; compare Catalan paella frying pan, paella
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 pail

mid-14c., of uncertain origin, probably from Old French paele, paelle "cooking or frying pan, warming pan;" also a liquid measure, from Latin patella "small pan, little dish, platter," diminutive of patina "broad shallow pan, stewpan" (see pan (n.)).

Old English had pægel "wine vessel," but etymology does not support a connection. This Old English word possibly is from Medieval Latin pagella "a measure," from Latin pagella "column," diminutive of pagina (see page (n.1)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper