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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English wele, from Old English wela (wellness, welfare, prosperity, riches, well-being, wealth), from Proto-Germanic *walô (well-being, wellness, weal). Cognate with German Wohl, Danish vel, Swedish väl.


weal (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) Wealth, riches. [10th–19th c.]
  2. (literary) Welfare, prosperity. [from 10th c.]
  3. (by extension) Boon, benefit.
    • 1885, Richard F. Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Night 557:
      And indeed I blamed myself and sore repented me of having taken compassion on him and continued in this condition, suffering fatigue not to be described, till I said to myself, "I wrought him a weal and he requited me with my ill; by Allah, never more will I do any man a service so long as I live!"
  4. Specifically, the general happiness of a community, country etc. (often with qualifying word). [from 15th c.]
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

See wale.


weal (plural weals)

  1. A raised, longitudinal wound, usually purple, on the surface of flesh caused by a stroke of a rod or whip; a welt.
    Synonym: wheal
    • 1796, J[ohn] G[abriel] Stedman, chapter XII, in Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America; [], volume I, London: J[oseph] Johnson, [], and J. Edwards, [], OCLC 13966308, page 296:
      [A]lthough a few [slaves] live comfortably at Paramaribo, the greateſt number are wretched, particularly thoſe governed by a lady, who have many weals to ſhow, but not the ſmallest indulgence to boaſt of.
    • 1892, A[rthur] Conan Doyle, “[The Great Shadow] The End of the Storm”, in The Great Shadow and Beyond the City, Bristol: J. W. Arrowsmith, []; London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., OCLC 1000339207, pages 140–141:
      He turned as I struck him and fired full into my face, and the bullet left a weal across my cheek which will mark me to my dying day.
    • 1958, T. H. White, The Once and Future King, London: Collins, 1959, Chapter 16,[1]
      He had been slashed sixteen times by mighty boars, and his legs had white weals of shiny flesh that stretched right up to his ribs.
    • 2007, Tan Twan Eng, The Gift of Rain, New York: Weinstein Books, Book Two, Chapter Twenty-One, p. 422,[2]
      And I saw the green island in the immense sea, the borders of the sea curling with a lining of light, like a vast piece of rice paper, its edges alive with weals of red embers, ready to burst into flame.


weal (third-person singular simple present weals, present participle wealing, simple past and past participle wealed)

  1. To mark with stripes; to wale.