\ ˈkwāl How to pronounce quail (audio) \
plural quail or quails

Definition of quail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of numerous small gallinaceous birds: such as
a : an Old World migratory game bird (Coturnix coturnix)
b : bobwhite


quailed; quailing; quails

Definition of quail (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a chiefly dialectal : wither, decline
b : to give way : falter his courage never quailed
2 : to recoil in dread or terror : cower the strongest quail before financial ruin— Samuel Butler †1902

transitive verb

archaic : to make fearful

Illustration of quail

Illustration of quail


In the meaning defined above

Synonyms for quail

Synonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for quail


recoil, shrink, flinch, wince, blench, quail mean to draw back in fear or distaste. recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust. recoiled at the suggestion of stealing shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice. shrank from the unpleasant truth flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution. faced her accusers without flinching wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (such as a start or recoiling). winced in pain blench implies fainthearted flinching. stood their ground without blenching quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear. quailed before the apparition

Examples of quail in a Sentence

Noun We had quail for dinner. Verb Other politicians quailed before him. He quailed at the thought of seeing her again.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Coyotes, bighorn sheep and resident birds, such as Gambel’s quail and orange-and-black hooded orioles, rely on the space for water and a cooldown under the thicket of fan palms. Mary Forgione, Los Angeles Times, 11 Nov. 2021 The food can be entertaining, too: try the beef tartare ($26), prepared tableside with a quail’s egg. Christina Tkacik, baltimoresun.com, 5 Nov. 2021 Although served as an appetizer, the quail stuffed with pork sausage with red wine poached figs and crispy sage ($28) could serve as an ample main course. John Mariani, Forbes, 5 Oct. 2021 Corey Lee is known for reimagining classic Asian dishes, like a thousand-year-old quail egg. Elena Kadvany, San Francisco Chronicle, 5 Oct. 2021 Wagyu tartare with quail yolk ($21) and bibb, endive and beet with warm goat cheese salads ($11 to $17). San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Oct. 2021 Dickel’s Smokehouse has jalapeño-cheese sausage and quail. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 29 Sep. 2021 Pasture raised quail and chicken eggs too, plus local honey. Jill Barth, Forbes, 28 Sep. 2021 Wang deepens the mystery by pairing the springy meat with quivery quail eggs, achieving an improbable harmony. The New Yorker, 17 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The book features exurban mega mansions, the elite Piedmont Driving Club, Freaknik, burgeoning immigrant neighborhood Chamblee, South Georgia quail plantations and Greek philosopher Epictetus. Rodney Ho, ajc, 7 Nov. 2021 Like Trigger, Goose is training to assist on dove, duck, and quail hunts. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, 6 Oct. 2021 Experts say the studies will help identify limiting factors to quail population growth and refine the management needed to correct them. Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2021 The idea is to build quail a suitable home spacious enough to support a population large and healthy enough to bounce back in the wake of tough years. Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2021 Other poultry is well-suited to feed fewer servings, whether that’s a roast chicken, Cornish hens, duck or even quail. Washington Post, 14 Nov. 2020 Visitors can reserve a two-hour session on one of 20 different upland fields to hunt for pheasant, chucker, partridge and quail that club managers stock daily — at least until the end of April (when hunting season ends in October). Matt Villano, SFChronicle.com, 14 Oct. 2020 Brister, who started his shotgunning career hunting doves, quail and waterfowl in Texas, was one of the best wingshooters in the world. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 13 June 2020 Biodiversity loss, aquifer drainage, ocean acidification, soil degradation, and, biggest of all, climate change—who can look at this list without quailing? National Geographic, 25 Mar. 2020

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


14th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for quail


Middle English quaile, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin quaccula, of imitative origin


Middle English, from Middle Dutch quelen

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The first known use of quail was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

4 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Quail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quail. Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for quail



English Language Learners Definition of quail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a kind of small wild bird that is often hunted
: the meat of quail eaten as food



English Language Learners Definition of quail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to feel afraid and often to show your fear in a way that can be clearly seen


\ ˈkwāl How to pronounce quail (audio) \
plural quail or quails

Kids Definition of quail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small plump bird (as a bobwhite) that feeds mostly on the ground and is sometimes hunted for food or sport


quailed; quailing

Kids Definition of quail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lose courage : draw back in fear

More from Merriam-Webster on quail

Nglish: Translation of quail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quail for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about quail


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