\ ˈāl How to pronounce ail (audio) \
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

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Examples of ail in a Sentence


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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Lee is the only son of Samsung’s ailing chairman Lee Kun-hee. Washington Post, "Fate of key figures in S. Korean scandal that toppled Park," 6 Apr. 2018 Restless lawmakers demanding more opinion may get some help from a change in the committee’s leadership with the departure of Senator Thad Cochran, Republican of Mississippi, the ailing chairman. Carl Hulse, New York Times, "Broad Spending Bills Here to Stay as Long as Congressional Dysfunction Reigns," 30 Mar. 2018 Will unloading Thomas automatically fix what ails the Cavs? Dennis Manoloff,, "LeBron James provides 37-15-10 reminder of his value to Cavaliers: DMan video," 7 Feb. 2018 The project is one of the biggest investments by a private company in Mexico’s refining sector since the country enacted reforms several years ago that promised to revive Pemex’s ailing plants., "Pemex Refining Head Looks to Mitsui-Led Deal to Help Struggling Business," 1 Feb. 2018 Some of what ailed the Giants in 2017 was just plain bizarre. Ailene Voisin, sacbee, "San Francisco Giants: Andrew McCutchen only part of solution | The Sacramento Bee," 16 Jan. 2018 Even Willie Nelson isn't immune from the crazy crud that is currently ailing a great deal of his fellow Texans. Craig Hlavaty, Houston Chronicle, "Willie Nelson recovering at home after dealing with flu and cold symptoms onstage in California," 10 Jan. 2018 With the momentum of London and several would-be competitors ailing and aging, Grigor’s moment may have finally arrived. Stanley Kay,, "The Five Men Most Likely to Win Their First Slam at the 2018 Australian Open," 9 Jan. 2018 The altitude can’t be blamed for missed assignments and some of what ailed the defense. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks day-after review: What I thought might happen and what did happen," 10 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Apple’s smartphone shipments in China fell 20% in the quarter ended December from a year earlier, according to International Data Corp. Tepid iPhone sales aren't all that ail Apple in China. Stella Yifan Xie, WSJ, "Apple to Chinese Consumers: Buy a New iPhone for Under $30 a Month, Interest Free," 21 Feb. 2019 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.

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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

Verb and Noun

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

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Statistics for ail

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ail

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

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More Definitions for ail


\ ˈāl How to pronounce ail (audio) \

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 How to pronounce ail (audio) \

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

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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).


an enemy or opponent

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