- to lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger; shrink with fear.
Origin of quail2
SynonymsSee more synonyms for quail on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for quailed
She wondered what stuff he was made of, to be so dashed and quailed by a dream.
She used to like Tris, but these few months her love has all quailed away.
But she looked at him; and under that 105 look Seth quailed and shrank.The Heart of Thunder Mountain
Edfrid A. Bingham
The other looked into his eyes and quailed, but blustered to the end.The Crevice
William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander
The only thought before which he quailed was the thought that this could not last; that it must come to an end.Within the Tides
- 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
- (intr) to shrink back with fear; cower
Word Origin and History for quailed
migratory game bird, late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname (Quayle), from Old French quaille (Modern French caille), perhaps via Medieval Latin quaccula (source also of Provençal calha, Italian quaglia, Old Spanish coalla), or directly from a Germanic source (cf. Dutch kwakkel, Old High German quahtala "quail," German Wachtel, Old English wihtel), imitative of the bird's cry. Or the English word might be directly from Proto-Germanic. Slang meaning "young attractive woman" first recorded 1859.
c.1400, "have a morbid craving;" early 15c., "grow feeble or sick;" mid-15c., "to fade, fail, give way," of unknown origin, perhaps from Middle Dutch quelen "to suffer, be ill," from Proto-Germanic *kwel- "to die" (see quell). Or from obsolete quail "to curdle" (late 14c.), from Old French coailler, from Latin coagulare (see coagulate). Sense of "lose heart, shrink, cower" is attested from 1550s. According to OED, common 1520-1650, then rare until 19c., when apparently it was revived by Scott. Related: Quailed; quailing.