uttering a prolonged, inarticulate, mournful cry, usually high-pitched or clear-sounding, as in grief or suffering: In the village we passed a funeral procession, the wailing widow following behind the body of her husband.
making a mournful sound, as a siren, music, the wind, etc.: A wailing police siren nears, passes, and fades.
complaining, protesting, whining, or crying: He rubbed the bare foot of the wailing toddler and planted a kiss on it.They’re always trying to correct the market, usually in the interests of some wailing pressure group.
Slang. expressing emotion musically or verbally in an exciting, satisfying way: The song celebrates with a Cajun-flavored stomp accompanied by a wailing fiddle and screaming electric guitar.
a mournful cry or sound, or the act of making such a sound: The wailing of the mourners rose and fell, merging with the drums and the shaman’s chants.
an act or instance of complaining, protesting, etc.: “All art is propaganda, despite the wailing of purists,” she sneered.
Slang. the act of expressing emotion musically or verbally in an exciting, satisfying way: At this live show from 1974, the soulful wailing of the chorus in the background is utterly spine-tingling.
- wail·ing·ly, adverb
- un·wail·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use wailing in a sentence
The album’s continuous flow of shimmering synthesizer swirls and electronic wails that envelop and seemingly expand in all directions reveal Strom’s innate world-building skills.Pauline Anna Strom’s posthumous album cements her legacy as an electronic music visionary | Jonathan Williger | February 19, 2021 | Washington Post
Along with her wails, she’d repeat the same phrases, over and over — all part of a daily ritual that spanned some four hours, until a collection of voices told her they were satisfied.‘Call of Duty’ voice actors spent the summer on video calls like the rest of us | Mike Hume | November 11, 2020 | Washington Post
For all of the bellyaching, tooth gnashing, and public wailing, Democrats have no one to blame but themselves.
When the Iraqis resume shouting and wailing at you, Hassan translates every exclamation until you tell him to stop.Whatever You Do Someone Will Die. A Short Story About Impossible Choices in Iraq | Nathan Bradley Bethea | August 31, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
“I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him,” she writes.
In his 2000 visit to Israel, the Polish pope placed a note at the wailing Wall seeking forgiveness for Christian anti-Semitism.
When Japan scored a point there were moans and a long wailing cry of E-yay.
At Felipe's cry, the women waiting in the hall hurried in, wailing aloud as their first glance showed them all was over.Ramona | Helen Hunt Jackson
The sentinel was singing a sequedilla above; and its notes came to them with the wailing blast.The Pastor's Fire-side Vol. 3 of 4 | Jane Porter
He came close to having convulsions when a squad car passed on the next street west, its siren wailing.
And an answering cry sounded across the lagoon—thin, wailing, piteous.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
The hero hears sounds of wailing, and finds the maiden, the daughter of the King of the Isles, exposed upon the seashore.The Three Days' Tournament | Jessie L. Weston