Definition of banshee
: a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die
Examples of banshee in a sentence
I heard someone wailing like a banshee.
Did You Know?
In Irish folklore, a "bean sidhe" (literally "woman of fairyland") was not a welcome guest. When she was seen combing her hair or heard wailing beneath a window, it was considered a sign that a family member was about to die. English speakers modified the mournful fairy's Irish name into the modern word banshee - a term we now most often use to evoke her woeful or terrible or earsplitting cry, as in "to scream like a banshee," or attributively, "a banshee wail."
Origin and Etymology of banshee
Irish bean sídhe & Scottish Gaelic bean sìth, literally, woman of fairyland
First Known Use: 1771
BANSHEE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of banshee for English Language Learners
: a female spirit in Irish and Scottish stories who cries loudly to warn people that someone is going to die soon
Learn More about banshee
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about banshee
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up banshee? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).