noun \ˈkwāl\

: a kind of small wild bird that is often hunted

: the meat of quail eaten as food

plural quail or quails

Full Definition of QUAIL

:  any of numerous small gallinaceous birds: as
a :  an Old World migratory game bird (Coturnix coturnix)
b :  bobwhite

Examples of QUAIL

  1. We had quail for dinner.

Illustration of QUAIL

Origin of QUAIL

Middle English quaile, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin quaccula, of imitative origin
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Birds Terms

aerie, bunting, clutch, covey, hackle, ratite, rictus, ruff, skein, zygodactyl



: to feel afraid and often to show your fear in a way that can be clearly seen

Full Definition of QUAIL

intransitive verb
a chiefly dialect :  wither, decline
b :  to give way :  falter <his courage never quailed>
:  to recoil in dread or terror :  cower <the strongest quail before financial ruin — Samuel Butler †1902>
transitive verb
archaic :  to make fearful

Examples of QUAIL

  1. Other politicians quailed before him.
  2. He quailed at the thought of seeing her again.

Origin of QUAIL

Middle English, from Middle Dutch quelen
First Known Use: 15th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

California quail (Callipepla californica).—© William H. Mullins, The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

Any of several species of short-tailed game birds (family Phasianidae), some with a head plume that is straight or curled forward. Species range from 5 to 13 in. (13–33 cm) long. Some of the 95 Old World species have leg spurs, but the 36 New World species never do. Quails prefer open country and brushy borders. The male may help incubate the 12 eggs. Quails mainly eat seeds and berries but also leaves, roots, and insects. The common quail (Coturnix coturnix) of Eurasia and Africa is the only migratory bird in the order Galliformes. Quails are generally smaller than partridges. See also bobwhite.


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