be·​wail bi-ˈwāl How to pronounce bewail (audio)
bewailed; bewailing; bewails

transitive verb

: to wail over
: to express deep sorrow for usually by wailing and lamentation
Choose the Right Synonym for bewail

deplore, lament, bewail, bemoan mean to express grief or sorrow for something.

deplore implies regret for the loss or impairment of something of value.

deplores the breakdown in family values

lament implies a profound or demonstrative expression of sorrow.

lamenting the loss of their only child

bewail and bemoan imply sorrow, disappointment, or protest finding outlet in words or cries, bewail commonly suggesting loudness, and bemoan lugubriousness.

fans bewailed the defeat
purists bemoaning the corruption of the language

Examples of bewail in a Sentence

Many people bewailed the changes to the historic building. he invariably spends more time bewailing his predicament than trying to fix it
Recent Examples on the Web The grandmother would flee, and Billy would smite his chest and in Old Testament tones bewail his sinful life. Werner Herzog, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 Among progressives, the same people who bewail the influence of corporations on cultural and political life also propose to entrench the social role of big businesses by making individual Americans more dependent on them for everything from health care to retirement income. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, 13 May 2021 Now Gove’s remark became the source of the ashen taste in the mouths of Remoaner metropolitan elites bewailing how provincial troglodytes, geriatrics, and Little Englanders had dashed their rationalist, internationalist dreams. Kyle Smith, National Review, 8 Apr. 2020 Trump’s critics bewailed the outcome as a defeat and a betrayal of our Kurdish allies. Los Angeles Times, 16 Oct. 2019 Frequently bewailing the know-nothingness of the age, Davenport grouses that real scholarship has disappeared because of the vogue for critical approaches and appreciations. Michael Dirda, National Review, 25 July 2019 Understandably, promoters and artist representatives have long bewailed the enormous profits being made on the secondary market, which takes none of the risk and puts up none of the funding — and shares none of its profits — for major live events. Variety, The Mercury News, 24 July 2019 Across the country, North and South, Christians gathered in their churches to remember the crucifixion of Christ and to bewail their sins, which made such a sacrifice necessary. Jonathan Den Hartog, WSJ, 26 Apr. 2018 While progressives may cheer specific cases like Obergefell, recent years have seen them deliver numerous harsh assessments of the Supreme Court’s overall record, bewailing its interpretations of the Constitution that purportedly favor the wealthy. James W. Lucas, National Review, 8 Dec. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bewail.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of bewail was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near bewail

Cite this Entry

“Bewail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​wail bi-ˈwāl How to pronounce bewail (audio)
: to express great sorrow over
bewailing their fate

More from Merriam-Webster on bewail

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!