\ˈāl \
ailed; ailing; ails

Definition of ail 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to give physical or emotional pain, discomfort, or trouble to His back has been ailing him. It's good for what ails you. What's ailing you?

intransitive verb

: to have something the matter an ailing economy especially : to suffer ill health She has been ailing for years.



Definition of ail (Entry 2 of 2)

: ailment winter ails

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ail in a Sentence


half of the staff is out sick with the usual wintertime ails

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shari Redstone, daughter of the ailing 94-year-old mogul, has been keen to unite the two companies at a time of growing uncertainty in the media business. Meg James,, "CBS expected to make low-ball bid for Viacom," 2 Apr. 2018 Most people can agree that coconut oil is seemingly a magic elixir for anything that ails you. Korin Miller, SELF, "Does Coconut Oil Actually Work Any Magic on Eczema?," 19 July 2018 Wimbush is earnestly working on his delivery, accuracy and mechanics — areas that ailed him in the passing game last season — in order to be better this fall. Laken Litman, Indianapolis Star, "Insider: Projecting Notre Dame football's 2018 depth chart," 29 June 2018 Get the recipe This simple veg-forward broth (with #aneggonit) is the ideal cure for whatever ails you. Seamus Mullen, Bon Appetit, "Make Poached Eggs in Chicken Stock—Just Trust Us," 25 June 2018 And while surveillance teams keep finding and testing people who are sick, time and again tests have shown that what ails them is not Ebola. Helen Branswell, STAT, "Health officials cautiously optimistic dangerous Ebola outbreak is over," 21 June 2018 The second is that the Israeli-American connection is somewhere behind just about everything that ails us. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "As Garrett steps aside, GOP resolves to beat 'anti-Semitic' Dem and Hollywood mom," 29 May 2018 The second is that the Israeli-American connection is somewhere behind just about everything that ails us. Michael Tackett, New York Times, "Democratic Candidate Who Criticized Israel Faces Charges of Anti-Semitism," 29 May 2018 There’s a solution, soap, tonic, or powder for just about anything that ails you at Sonora. Scarlett Lindeman, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Markets in Mexico City," 5 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Brian Dennehy is Irina’s ailing elder brother, Sorin, although Dennehy, at seventy-nine, still looks too bearishly robust to ail. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“First Reformed” and “The Seagull”," 11 May 2018 The pitch inherently presumes a technologically advanced society, one where medicine has cured our physical ails. Will Nevin,, "TBT #22: Join a 'Cold War,' take a 'Void Trip'," 26 Dec. 2017 Normally served on the street, ya dong’s herbal powers are said to cure bodily ails. Natalie B. Compton, GQ, "The Best Bars in Bangkok, as Told by Locals," 1 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ail


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ail


Middle English eilen, from Old English eglan; akin to Goth agljan to harm


see ail entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ail

Statistics for ail

Last Updated

9 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ail

The first known use of ail was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ail


\ˈāl \

Kids Definition of ail

1 : to be wrong with What ails you?

2 : to suffer especially with ill health She has been ailing for years.

\ˈā(ə)l \

Medical Definition of ail 

: to affect with a disease or physical or emotional pain or discomfort what ails the patient

intransitive verb

: to become affected with pain or discomfort : to suffer ill health was ailing from a cold

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ail

Spanish Central: Translation of ail

Nglish: Translation of ail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ail for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ail

What made you want to look up ail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


amusing and light sparring with words

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!