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wail like a banshee

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Scream shrilly, as in Terrified, she wailed like a banshee. In Irish folklore, a banshee is a spirit in the form of a wailing woman whose appearance is an omen that one member of a family will die. The simile dates from the late 1800s.

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

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