\ 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 After a corporate downsizing eliminated his job, Mr. Hodgman headed back to Paris, Mo., to live in his family home with his aging and ailing mother, Betty. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "George Hodgman, best-selling author of ‘Bettyville,’ dies at 60," 24 July 2019 The cause was a fateful decision Flores made decades ago: to leave California to visit her ailing mother in Mexico. Brittny Mejia,, "Deported airman’s mother inspires bill to protect ‘patriot parents’," 11 July 2019 Violet’s relationship with Tyrell lacks the particularity of detail that makes her reunions with her sister Katie and their ailing mother so bittersweet. Wendy Smith,, "Not perhaps the best by a master of the troubling and thoughtful but still pretty good," 13 June 2019 Nixon had been ailing from a staph infection in his knee and came to the debate without rehearsing his responses. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Sander Vanocur, TV journalist and panelist in Kennedy-Nixon debate, dies at 91," 17 Sep. 2019 Also, Stephen Piscotty, out since June 29 due to a knee sprain, could return to face the Cardinals for the first time since the December 2017 trade that brought him home to be with his ailing mother. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "New Athletics pitcher Tanner Roark slated for Sunday debut vs. Cardinals," 2 Aug. 2019 Earlier this year, the bank entered talks to merge with German rival Commerzbank, which had also been ailing since the global financial crisis. Geir Moulson,, "18,000 job cuts at Deutsche Bank signal an end to its attempt to win on global stage," 8 July 2019 Elliott will pay about $476 million for Barnes & Noble, which has been ailing amid competition with Amazon and other physical retailers. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Barnes & Noble acquired: Elliott Management buys bookstore chain, plans 'growth strategy'," 25 Mar. 2019 Sometimes a fix is as easy as looking to see if any of the light bulbs on your ailing strand aren’t pushed down into the connector enough. Country Living, "Here's Exactly How to Fix Christmas Lights," 13 Sep. 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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Learn More about ail

Statistics for ail

Last Updated

28 Oct 2019

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

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

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).


not being in agreement or harmony

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