verb (used with object)

to cover or conceal with or as with a veil: She veiled her face in black. A heavy fog veiled the shoreline.
to hide the real nature of; mask; disguise: to veil one's intentions.

verb (used without object)

to don or wear a veil: In certain Islamic countries women must veil.


    take the veil, to become a nun.

Origin of veil

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English veile < Anglo-French < Latin vēla, neuter plural (taken in VL as feminine singular) of vēlum covering; (v.) Middle English veilen < Anglo-French veiler, derivative of veile
Related formsveil·less, adjectiveveil·like, adjective
Can be confusedvale veil Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for veil

Contemporary Examples of veil

Historical Examples of veil

  • Yet she would not take back the words either, nor would she grant the veil.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • And Sidney knew how it was meant; she smiled into his eyes and drew down her veil briskly.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Would the veil hold the handmade curls in exactly the proper place?

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • Her hands shook so that she failed twice in the task of refastening her veil.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • Her hat was in the way of very marked effusion; her veil too.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for veil



a piece of more or less transparent material, usually attached to a hat or headdress, used to conceal or protect a woman's face and head
part of a nun's headdress falling round the face onto the shoulders
something that covers, conceals, or separates; maska veil of reticence
the veil the life of a nun in a religious order and the obligations entailed by it
take the veil to become a nun
Also called: velum botany a membranous structure, esp the thin layer of cells connecting the edge of a young mushroom cap with the stipe
anatomy another word for caul


(tr) to cover, conceal, or separate with or as if with a veil
(intr) to wear or put on a veil
Derived Formsveiler, nounveilless, adjectiveveil-like, adjective

Word Origin for veil

C13: from Norman French veile, from Latin vēla sails, pl of vēlum a covering



Simone (Annie) (simɔn). born 1927, French stateswoman; president of the European Parliament (1979–82): a survivor of Nazi concentration camps
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 veil

early 13c., from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (Old French voile) "a head-covering," also "a sail," from Latin vela, plural of velum "sail, curtain, covering," from PIE root *weg- "to weave a web." Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil "become a nun" is attested from early 14c.


late 14c., from Old French veler, voiller, from Latin velare "to cover, veil," from velum (see veil (n.)). Figurative sense of "to conceal" (something immaterial) is recorded from 1530s. Related: Veiled; veiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

veil in Medicine




The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

veil in Science



A membranous covering or part, especially a membrane surrounding the young mushrooms of certain basidiomycete fungi. In some species the membrane (called a partial veil) extends only from the stalk to the cap. As the cap expands, the veil breaks, leaving a ring called an annulus on the stalk and often scalelike pieces on the cap. These veil remnants are important for identifying species of mushrooms.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with veil


see draw a veil over.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.