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See more synonyms for wale on Thesaurus.com
  1. a streak, stripe, or ridge produced on the skin by the stroke of a rod or whip; welt.
  2. the vertical rib in knit goods or a chain of loops running lengthwise in knit fabric (opposed to course).
  3. the texture or weave of a fabric.
  4. Nautical.
    1. any of certain strakes of thick outside planking on the sides of a wooden ship.
    2. gunwale.
  5. Also called breast timber, ranger, waling. Engineering, Building Trades. a horizontal timber or other support for reinforcing various upright members, as sheet piling or concrete form boards, or for retaining earth at the edge of an excavation.
  6. a ridge on the outside of a horse collar.
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verb (used with object), waled, wal·ing.
  1. to mark with wales.
  2. to weave with wales.
  3. Engineering, Building Trades. to reinforce or fasten with a wale or wales.
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Origin of wale1

before 1050; (noun) Middle English; Old English walu ridge, rib, wheal; cognate with Old Norse vǫlr, Gothic walus rod, wand; (v.) late Middle English, derivative of the noun


[weyl]Scot. and North England
  1. something that is selected as the best; choice.
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verb (used with object), waled, wal·ing.
  1. to choose; select.
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Origin of wale2

1250–1300; Middle English wal(e) < Old Norse val choice, velja to choose
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for wale

Historical Examples

  • Vertical staving was used to carry the wale around the stern.

    The Migrations of an American Boat Type

    Howard I. Chapelle

  • Wale put the lid on in case his employer might hear any more of his sentiments.

  • With two weavers of blue and one of natural, weave two rows of Wale.

    Practical Basketry

    Anna A. Gill

  • That chap that disna speak is ane o' the wale o' the Ha's: I ken him weel for a' his half visor.

  • Neea whaar sooa far south, Mrs. Wale, ma'am; but ma father was off times down thar cuttin' peat.

British Dictionary definitions for wale


  1. the raised mark left on the skin after the stroke of a rod or whip
    1. the weave or texture of a fabric, such as the ribs in corduroy
    2. a vertical row of stitches in knittingCompare course (def. 14)
  2. nautical
    1. a ridge of planking along the rail of a ship
    2. See gunwale
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verb (tr)
  1. to raise a wale or wales on by striking
  2. to weave with a wale
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Word Origin

Old English walu weal 1; related to Old Norse vala knuckle, Dutch wäle


  1. a choice
  2. anything chosen as the best
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  1. choice
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  1. (tr) to choose
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Word Origin

C14: from Old Norse val choice, related to German Wahl
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 wale


Old English walu "ridge," as of earth or stone, later "ridge made on flesh by a lash" (related to weal (n.2)); from Proto-Germanic *walo (cf. Low German wale "weal," Old Frisian walu "rod," Old Norse völr "round piece of wood," Gothic walus "a staff, stick," Dutch wortel, German wurzel "root"). The common notion perhaps is "raised line." Used in reference to the ridges of textile fabric from 1580s. Wales "horizontal planks which extend along a ship's sides" is attested from late 13c.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wale in Medicine


  1. A mark raised on the skin, as by a whip; a weal or welt.
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  1. To raise marks on the skin, as by whipping.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.