quail

1
[ kweyl ]
/ kweɪl /

noun, plural quails, (especially collectively) quail.

a small, migratory, gallinaceous game bird, Coturnix coturnix, of the Old World.
any of several other birds of the genus Coturnix and allied genera.
any of various New World gallinaceous game birds of the genus Colinus and allied genera, especially the bobwhite.
Slang. a woman or girl.

Origin of quail

1
1300–50; Middle English quaille < Old French < Germanic; compare Dutch kwakkel quail, Middle Dutch, Middle Low German quackele; akin to quack1

Related forms

quail·like, adjective

Can be confused

quail quell quill

Definition for quail (2 of 2)

quail

2
[ kweyl ]
/ kweɪl /

verb (used without object)

to lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger; shrink with fear.

Origin of quail

2
1400–50; late Middle English < Middle Dutch quelen, queilen

Related forms

un·quail·ing, adjective

Synonym study

See wince1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for quail

British Dictionary definitions for quail (1 of 2)

quail

1
/ (kweɪl) /

noun plural quails or quail

any small Old World gallinaceous game bird of the genus Coturnix and related genera, having a rounded body and small tail: family Phasianidae (pheasants)
any of various similar and related American birds, such as the bobwhite

Word Origin for quail

C14: from Old French quaille, from Medieval Latin quaccula, probably of imitative origin

British Dictionary definitions for quail (2 of 2)

quail

2
/ (kweɪl) /

verb

(intr) to shrink back with fear; cower

Word Origin for quail

C15: perhaps from Old French quailler, from Latin coāgulāre to curdle
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