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noun was·sail \ˈwä-səl also wä-ˈsāl\

Simple Definition of wassail

  • : a hot alcoholic drink that is traditionally served in a large bowl especially at Christmastime

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of wassail

  1. 1 :  an early English toast to someone's health

  2. 2 :  a hot drink that is made with wine, beer, or cider, spices, sugar, and usually baked apples and is traditionally served in a large bowl especially at Christmastime

  3. 3 :  riotous drinking :  revelry

Examples of wassail in a sentence

  1. <woke up with a terrible headache from a wild wassail the night before>

Origin and Etymology of wassail

Middle English wæs hæil, washayl, from Old Norse ves heill be well, from ves (imperative singular of vera to be) + heill healthy — more at was, whole

First Known Use: 12th century

Other Alcoholic Beverage Terms



verb was·sail

Definition of wassail

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to indulge in wassail :  carouse

  3. 2 dial English :  to sing carols from house to house at Christmas

  4. transitive verb
  5. :  to drink to the health or thriving of

Examples of wassail in a sentence

  1. <the knights feasted and wassailed for three days after the battlefield victory>

Did You Know?

The salutation wassail, from the Old Norse toast ves heill ("be well"), has accompanied English toast-making since the 12th century. By the 13th century, wassail was being used for the drink itself, and it eventually came to be used especially of a hot drink (of wine, beer, or cider with spices, sugar, and usually baked apples) drunk around Christmastime. This beverage warmed the stomachs and hearts of many Christmas revelers and was often shared with Christmas carolers. The verb wassail was first used in the 14th century to describe the carousing associated with indulgence in the drink; later, it was used of other activities associated with wassail and the holiday season, like caroling. Seventeenth-century farmers added cattle and trees to the wassail tradition by drinking to their health or vitality during wintertime festivities.

14th Century

First Known Use of wassail

14th century

Seen and Heard

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a very small amount

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