\ ˈāl How to pronounce ale (audio) \

Definition of ale

1 : an alcoholic beverage brewed especially by rapid fermentation from an infusion of malt with the addition of hops
2 : an English country festival at which ale is the principal beverage

Examples of ale in a Sentence

The bar serves two very different ales.

Recent Examples on the Web

George Greenaway, who runs a brand new microbrewery in the Tamworth town center, worries about post-Brexit demand for his craft ales. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Britons Most at Risk in a Messy Split From EU Are Least Worried," 13 Jan. 2019 Dogfish Head took the top honor for best canned beer with its Seaquench ale, a session sour. Allison Steele,, "The winners of Craig LaBan's 2018 Brewvitational," 2 May 2018 Compared to your average ale, there are two big difference in how a pickle beer like the Birth of Cool is brewed. Matt Allyn, Popular Mechanics, "How The Perfect Pickle Beer Is Made," 18 Oct. 2016 George Greenaway, head brewer at craft ale producer Tamworth Brewing Co., said he is concerned that demand for his beers might be dented if his customers feel the pinch from Brexit. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Britons Most at Risk in a Messy Split From EU Are Least Worried," 13 Jan. 2019 Some of Michigan's best sour beer-making breweries will be there, such as Transient Artisan ales of Bridgman and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales of Dexter. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "7 must-go summer beer events in Michigan," 11 June 2018 June 3: Wake up to brunch with Oxbow from Maine, one of my favorite wild ale brewers, at Khyber Pass, which has one of the city’s best NOLA-style menus. Michael Klein,, "Let's Eat: Poke and the Rittenhouse scene," 30 May 2018 In other beverage upheaval, United removed Sprite Zero and Courvoisier cognac due to low consumption, and added two craft beers for summer: a Lagunitas ale and an IPA from New Belgium Brewing Co. Justin Bachman,, "United heeds tomato fan rage to return juice to the snack cart," 11 May 2018 Now, brewers are tackling the challenge of creating beers that are low in gluten, high in flavor, making bitter IPAs, citrusy witbiers, and refreshing golden ales. Joshua M. Bernstein, Bon Appetit, "12 Gluten-Free Beers That Actually Taste Good," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ale.' 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 ale

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ale

Middle English, from Old English ealu; akin to Old Norse ǫl ale, Lithuanian alus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ale

Dictionary Entries near ale





alea jacta est



Statistics for ale

Last Updated

10 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ale

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ale



English Language Learners Definition of ale

: an alcoholic drink that is similar to beer


\ ˈāl How to pronounce ale (audio) \

Kids Definition of ale

: an alcoholic drink made from malt and flavored with hops that is usually more bitter than beer

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ale

Spanish Central: Translation of ale

Nglish: Translation of ale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ale for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about ale

Comments on ale

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


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Green Quiz

  • shamrock
  • What is the best definition of green-eyed monster?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Dictionary Devil

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!