- 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 quailing
Lady Luce caught her by the shoulders and glared into her quailing eyes.Nell, of Shorne Mills
And instead of quailing, she looked at him with flashing eyes.In Kings' Byways
Stanley J. Weyman
The quailing Leaf tried to look as if he had lived nowhere at all.Under the Greenwood Tree
How would it not grieve him could he hear of them as now quailing before Hector?The Iliad
Quailing inside his force shell, Scorio saw his men go, one by one.Empire
Clifford Donald Simak
- 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 quailing
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.