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From Middle English dwale (dazed, stupor; deception, trickery; delusion; error, wrong-doing, evil), from Old English dwala, dwola (error, heresy; doubt; madman, deceiver, heretic) and possibly of Scandinavian origin, compare Danish dvale ‘sleep, stupor’.



dwale (countable and uncountable, plural dwales)

  1. (obsolete) a sleeping-potion, especially one made from belladonna
    • Late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer, The Reeve's Tale
      To bedde goþ Aleyne and also John; / Þer nas na moore – hem nedede no dwale.
  2. belladonna itself, deadly nightshade; or some other soporific plant
    • 1842, J. van Voorst, The Phytologist, p. 595.
      Beneath and around the clumps of ragged moss-grown elder and hoary stunted whitethorn (...) rise thickets of tall nettles and rank hemlock, concealing the deadly but alluring dwale
  3. error, delusion
  4. (heraldry) a sable or black color.


dwale (third-person singular simple present dwales, present participle dwaling, simple past and past participle dwaled)

  1. To mutter deliriously

Related terms[edit]

  • dwaal — a dreamy, dazed, or absent-minded state
  • dwual — to be delirious


  • dwale in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.





  1. (archaic) singular present subjunctive of dwalen