banshee

noun
ban·​shee | \ ˈban-(ˌ)shē How to pronounce banshee (audio) , ban-ˈshē How to pronounce banshee (audio) \

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.

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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."

Examples of banshee in a Sentence

I heard someone wailing like a banshee.
Recent Examples on the Web Marla advises that no one listens to a screaming banshee telling them to clean. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Summer inspires a cleaning binge, freeing me of clutter and clothes that taunt me," 25 June 2019 The magic starts with the engine, a supercharged 5.2L V-8 that can howl like a banshee but leaves the cabin quiet enough for conversation at normal levels. Mark Phelan, chicagotribune.com, "Auto review: 760-horsepower 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 strikes like lightning," 1 Nov. 2019 Howling on the outside, quiet on the inside The magic starts with the engine, a supercharged 5.2L V8 that can howl like a banshee but leaves the cabin quiet enough for conversation at normal levels. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "760-horsepower 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 strikes like lightning," 29 Oct. 2019 From goth metal banshee siren to pop jazz chanteuse to blues singer, big-voiced Stevens is a master of reinvention and surprise. Hector Saldana, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio singer Kara Stevens enters her blues period," 25 Oct. 2019 Seabirds howl like banshees, and seal colonies, numbering in the thousands, bubble and blip among the waves. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 Maddon exploded like an M-80 on the Fourth of July at PNC Park, charging out of the Cubs dugout and screaming like a banshee in the general direction of Pirates manager Clint Hurdle before being held back by Kris Bryant and umpire Joe West. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "4 people to watch as the Cubs and White Sox resume the City Series on the South Side," 5 July 2019 The inconstant, tympanic thrumming of the fabric is an intonation underlying one shrieking run after another of banshee notes, some of them single tones within the squalling wind that sustain themselves for several seconds before dropping an octave. Barry Lopez, Harper's magazine, "Polar Light," 10 Jan. 2019 Winds batter ridges where seabirds howl like banshees, and jackals stalk baroque canyons of soft crumbling rock. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018

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

1771, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banshee

Irish bean sídhe & Scottish Gaelic bean sìth, literally, woman of fairyland

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Time Traveler for banshee

Time Traveler

The first known use of banshee was in 1771

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Statistics for banshee

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Banshee.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/banshee. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for banshee

banshee

noun
How to pronounce banshee (audio) How to pronounce banshee (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of banshee

: a female spirit in Irish and Scottish stories who cries loudly to warn people that someone is going to die soon

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More from Merriam-Webster on banshee

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for banshee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with banshee

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about banshee

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