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From Middle English *squalen (not recorded) and squelen (to cry, scream, squall), from Old Norse skvala (to cry out), probably ultimately imitative with influence from squeal and bawl.

Cognate with Swedish skvala (to gush, pour down), Norwegian skval (sudden rush of water). The noun is probably from the verb.


  • IPA(key): /ˈskwɔːl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːl


squall (plural squalls)

  1. (meteorology) A squall line, multicell line, or part of a squall line.
  2. (often nautical) A sudden storm, as found in a squall line.
    • 2019 February 27, Drachinifel, The Battle of Samar - Odds? What are those?[1], archived from the original on 3 November 2022, 10:57 from the start:
      With reports of the Japanese forces bearing down on them confirmed, Rear Admiral Sprague orders his ships east, heading towards a series of rain squalls, hoping for concealment. This will hopefully delay the Japanese closing the range, and also draw them away from the much-more-vulnerable landing ships.
  3. A loud cry or wail.
    • 1851 November 14, Herman Melville, chapter 34, in Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers; London: Richard Bentley, →OCLC, page 163:
      But the third Emir, now seeing himself all alone on the quarter-deck, seems to feel relieved from some curious restraint; for, tipping all sorts of knowing winks in all sorts of directions, and kicking off his shoes, he strikes into a sharp but noiseless squall of a hornpipe right over the Grand Turk’s head; and then, by a dexterous sleight, pitching his cap up into the mizentop for a shelf, he goes down rollicking so far at least as he remains visible from the deck, reversing all other processions, by bringing up the rear with music.



squall (third-person singular simple present squalls, present participle squalling, simple past and past participle squalled)

  1. To cry or wail loudly.
    • 1881–1882, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London; Paris: Cassell & Company, published 14 November 1883, →OCLC:
      Squalling was the word for it, Pew's anger rose so high at these objections; till at last, his passion completely taking the upper hand, he struck at them right and left in his blindness, and his stick sounded heavily on more than one.
    • 1916, Jack London, The Red One:
      Squalling like an infuriated cat, the shadow crashed down
    • 1934 October, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], Burmese Days, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, →OCLC:
      The orchestra burst into a sudden loud squalling.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 39:
      Some night-bird, belike, or a sea-gull squalling below the headland.
    • 1998, Anne McCafferey, Masterharper of Pern:
      she wrapped the squalling, wriggling baby tightly into the fine cotton sheet

Derived terms[edit]


  • Russian: шквал (škval)
  • Ukrainian: шквал (škval)


Further reading[edit]