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Word of the Day
Saturday, December 24, 2016

Definitions for wassail

  1. to drink to the health or success of; toast.
  2. to revel with drinking.
  3. a salutation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a cup of drink or when drinking to the person.

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Citations for wassail
"Well, wassail to the good of all," Ranulf said sourly. He poured another drink and raised a toast. Elizabeth Chadwick, To Defy a King, 2010
"Wassail, you chaps!" he shouted. "Wassail, old sport!" they shouted back; "we'd jolly well drink y'r health, only we've nothing to drink it in." "Come and wassail inside," said Bertie hospitably ... Saki (1870-1916), "Bertie's Christmas Eve," The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories, 2013
Origin of wassail
The noun and verb senses of wassail come from popular medieval English expressions used first as a general greeting and, later, in toasting someone's health. The Old English phrase Wes þū hāl, meaning “Be thou healthy (hale)” was a general greeting used, for example, in Beowulf: the young Beowulf greets the old king Hrothgar with Wæs thū, Hrothgar, hāl. The Danish Vikings introduced the corresponding Old Norse salutation Ves heill in the 800s, which replaced the Old English phrase. Neither the Old English nor the Old Norse phrase was used as a toast. The Normans in the 1100s were the first to recognize this phrase used as a toast among the English.