wail

[weyl]

verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to express deep sorrow for; mourn; lament; bewail: to wail the dead; to wail one's fate.
to express in wailing; cry or say in lamentation: to wail one's grief.

noun


Origin of wail

1300–50; Middle English weile (v. and noun), perhaps derivative of Old English weilā(wei) well-away; compare Old English wǣlan to torment, Old Norse wǣla to wail
Related formswail·er, nounwail·ing·ly, adverbun·wailed, adjectiveun·wail·ing, adjective
Can be confusedwail whale
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019


Examples from the Web for wail

Contemporary Examples of wail

Historical Examples of wail

  • Linda looked at her as she buried her face and began to wail.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • She was too terrified to add her weeping to the wail of the wind—it would have been too ghastly.

    Dust

    Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius

  • It's the wail of a lost spirit, loosed temporarily from the horrors of purgatory.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • The voice changed into what was almost a wail of indignation.

    The Coryston Family

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • No shriek, no wail, no word succeeded—all was as silent as the grave.


British Dictionary definitions for wail

wail

verb

(intr) to utter a prolonged high-pitched cry, as of grief or misery
(intr) to make a sound resembling such a crythe wind wailed in the trees
(tr) to lament, esp with mournful sounds

noun

a prolonged high-pitched mournful cry or sound
Derived Formswailer, nounwailful, adjectivewailfully, adverb

Word Origin for wail

C14: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse vǣla to wail, Old English woe
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 wail
v.

early 14c., from Old Norse væla "to lament," from "woe" (see woe). Of jazz musicians, "to play very well," attested from 1955, American English slang (wailing "excellent" is attested from 1954). Related: Wailed.

n.

c.1400; see wail (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper