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From Middle English [Term?], from Old Norse ves heill (be healthy!), from the imperative of vesa (to be) + heill (healthy). The earliest documented use of the term is from 1275.



wassail (countable and uncountable, plural wassails)

  1. A toast to health, usually on a festive occasion.
  2. The beverage served during a wassail, especially one made of ale or wine flavoured with spices, sugar, roasted apples, etc.
  3. Revelry.
    • 1813, Walter Scott, Rokeby:
      In merry wassail he [] peals his loud song.
    • 1856-1858, William H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Phillip II
      The victors abandoned themselves to feasting and wassail.
  4. A festive or drinking song or glee.



wassail (third-person singular simple present wassails, present participle wassailing, simple past and past participle wassailed)

  1. (transitive) To toast, to drink to the health of another.
    The next morning he much regretted the gusto with which he had wassailed the night before.
  2. (intransitive) To drink wassail.
  3. To go from house to house at Christmastime, singing carols.
    • 2002, Christopher Morley, "Culture: Children carry a torch for carol king; John Joubert will be 75 next month", The Birmingham Post, 21 February 2002:
      Schoolchildren around the globe have gleefully sung Torches at Christmastime for half a century. Many of those in Birmingham have wassailed the carol at the front door of a cosy Victorian house in Moseley, unaware that behind that front door lives its composer.
    • 2006, Ronald M. Clancy, Best-Loved Christmas Carols: The Stories Behind Twenty-Five Yuletide Favorites, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. (2006), →ISBN, page 81:
      During the Christmas season, carolers traveled from house to house, bringing good wishes and carrying an empty bowl. The master of the house being wassailed was expected to fill the bowl with hot, spicy ale.
    • 2010, Burton Cole, "Holiday mysteries to roast in your wassail", Tribune Chronicle, 26 December 2010:
      "I wish someone would come to my house and wassail!" Jessica P. of Howland said.


  • (go from house to house, singing carols): carol

See also[edit]