wail

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English[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Probably from Old Norse væla[1]

Noun[edit]

wail (plural wails)

  1. A prolonged cry, usually high-pitched, especially as of grief or anguish.
    She let out a loud, doleful wail.
  2. Any similar sound as of lamentation; a howl.
    The wail of snow-dark winter winds.
    A bird's wail in the night.
  3. A sound made by emergency vehicle sirens, contrasted with "yelp" which is higher-pitched and faster.
Translations[edit]

Verb[edit]

wail (third-person singular simple present wails, present participle wailing, simple past and past participle wailed)

  1. (intransitive) To cry out, as in sorrow or anguish.
  2. (intransitive) To weep, lament persistently or bitterly.
  3. (intransitive) To make a noise like mourning or crying.
    The wind wailed and the rain streamed down.
  4. (transitive) To lament; to bewail; to grieve over.
    to wail one's death
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)
  5. (slang, music) To perform with great liveliness and force.
    • 1999, Lewis A. Erenberg, Swingin' the Dream: Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture, page 111:
      At Boston's Roseland, as "the Count's band was wailing," he grabbed Mamie, an avid dancer. The "band was screaming when she kicked off her shoes and got barefooted
    • 2012, Robert Lewis Barrett, A Portrait of the First Born As a Child, page 377:
      The band was really wailing as we quickly made our dance moves in a most provocative manner.
    • 2013, Joan Silber, Fools, ISBN 9780393088700:
      We had a nondenominational wedding, with a bunch of great Sufi musicians really wailing, and my wildly enthusiastic mother in attendance.
Derived terms[edit]
Translations[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.
References[edit]
  1. ^ Etymology in Webster's Dictionary

Etymology 2[edit]

Compare Icelandic word for "choice".

Verb[edit]

wail (third-person singular simple present wails, present participle wailing, simple past and past participle wailed)

  1. (obsolete) To choose; to select.
    • Henryson
      Wailed wine and meats

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.