\ 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

Noun half of the staff is out sick with the usual wintertime ails
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Wild starting goalie Devan Dubnyk, who remained home to be with his ailing wife, will also miss the final two games of the road trip. Harvey Fialkov, Twin Cities, "Wild rally past Panthers for fourth consecutive victory," 3 Dec. 2019 The bank was ailing financially amid a lack of liquidity and allegations of money laundering. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Outcry in Ukraine over song mocking ex-central bank chief," 21 Oct. 2019 But there are enough warning signs that many economists think a recession is likely by 2021—bad news for America’s already-ailing retailers. Marc Bain, Quartz, "These fashion businesses are positioned to survive a US recession," 20 Sep. 2019 Sean Zukowsky, who held the position for seven months until deciding to resign to care for his young children and his ailing wife. Wayne K. Roustan,, "Broward sheriff’s new No. 2 is a longtime veteran of the force," 11 Sep. 2019 Strains of the bacteria have occasionally ailed Marylanders. Lillian Reed,, "A mom said her son was infected with Vibrio bacteria in Ocean City. Here's how to avoid the same fate.," 5 July 2019 The two were in London visiting Sharif's ailing wife when a Pakistani court convicted them of corruption. Zaheer Babar And Abdul Sattar,, "74 dead in election violence in Pakistan," 13 July 2018 Elton John John underwent throat surgery in 1987, and at the time there was much speculation about what was ailing the star. Andrea Wurzburger,, "Miley Cyrus, Céline Dion and More Stars Who've Had to Bounce Back from Vocal Injuries," 11 Nov. 2019 Many look to the glut of new high-rise, luxury condos for what ails the city’s real estate market, but ambitious pricing at the top also set unrealistic expectations in the comparatively modest co-op market. New York Times, "It’s a Buyers’ Market for Two-Bedrooms," 1 Nov. 2019 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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Time Traveler for ail

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ail

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Ail.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ail

Spanish Central: Translation of ail

Nglish: Translation of ail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ail for Arabic Speakers

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