Definition of banshee
: a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die We heard someone screaming like a banshee.
banshee was our Word of the Day on 06/06/2011. Hear the podcast!
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
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).