View synonyms for wail


[ weyl ]

verb (used without object)

  1. to utter a prolonged, inarticulate, mournful cry, usually high-pitched or clear-sounding, as in grief or suffering:

    to wail with pain.

  2. to make mournful sounds, as music or the wind.
  3. to lament or mourn bitterly.
  4. Jazz. to perform exceptionally well.
  5. Slang. to express emotion musically or verbally in an exciting, satisfying way.

verb (used with object)

  1. to express deep sorrow for; mourn; lament; bewail:

    to wail the dead;

    to wail one's fate.

  2. to express in wailing; cry or say in lamentation:

    to wail one's grief.


  1. the act of wailing.
  2. a wailing cry, as of grief, pain, or despair.
  3. any similar mournful sound:

    the wail of an old tune.


/ weɪl /


  1. intr to utter a prolonged high-pitched cry, as of grief or misery
  2. intr to make a sound resembling such a cry

    the wind wailed in the trees

  3. tr to lament, esp with mournful sounds


  1. a prolonged high-pitched mournful cry or sound
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Derived Forms

  • ˈwailful, adjective
  • ˈwailfully, adverb
  • ˈwailer, noun
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Other Words From

  • wail·er noun
  • un·wailed adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of wail1

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English weile (verb and noun), perhaps derivative of Old English weilāwei wellaway ( def ); compare Old English wǣlan “to torment,” Old Norse wǣla “to wail”
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Word History and Origins

Origin of wail1

C14: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse vǣla to wail, Old English woe
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Example Sentences

The sirens and the wails will recur … again and again and again.

From Ozy

As the women “wail” and the men “dance,” the community takes time to “demonstrate care and respect for the dead.”

Kirsty, understandably, was not impressed at being dumped on her dream day, and her bereft wail filled the church.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv's cafes still buzz with activity, even as the sirens wail.

As CEOs, investors, and lobbyists wail, Republicans will only be able to deliver if they can coax President Obama into a deal.

A helicopter chugged above and there was the wail of a siren.

His childhood, except when he could be rocked and sung into sickly sleep, was one long piteous wail.

Gradually all grew still and then over the river came the terrible hunger wail of a tiger.

Throughout the country-side, wherever the echo of the wail was heard, a tension fell upon everything.

He ate it in silence, except that every now and then he uttered a sort of wail, and looked up at Lillyston.

And in windy, still frozen March the wail of a tiny baby was heard in the house.


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