quail

noun
\ 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)

quail

verb
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

Noun

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for quail

Verb

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun There are white-tailed deer, hogs, quail and two nesting pairs of American bald eagles on the property. Joe Deaux, chicagotribune.com, "Metals company wants to sell its $250 million Texas ranch with an industrial past," 30 Oct. 2019 The menu at Highland Village will be slightly expanded to include Kobe beef, baby back ribs and possibly quail, Robinson said. Marcy De Luna, Houston Chronicle, "Brazilian steakhouse Gauchos Do Sul to open at Highland Village," 19 Feb. 2020 The apartment is home to two parrots, a duck, a chicken, a quail, a rabbit, guinea pigs, two iguanas and a chinchilla. NBC News, "Las Vegas bird rescuer still searching for pigeons wearing cowboy hats," 18 Jan. 2020 Vintage Jeeps for the Ball and Buck special edition are sourced from around the country and sent to Kyle Smith of the Original Bird Buggy in Georgia’s quail country to be modernized and upfitted. Mihir Maddireddy, Car and Driver, "Outdoors Retailer Beautifully Modernizes Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler," 18 Feb. 2020 The dishes will include some of the restaurant’s more popular options, including a tartare of pickled root vegetables in lieu of beef, served with horseradish cream and a quail egg yolk. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco’s art-focused restaurant, Palette, plots spacious new SoMa space," 13 Feb. 2020 These should make great carrying guns for thick-cover woodcock and quail hunters who need to keep one hand free for fending off brush, and who need a gun that handles quickly. Phil Bourjaily, Field & Stream, "Best New Shotguns of the 2020 SHOT Show," 22 Jan. 2020 Odd Duck, a farm-to-table restaurant, serves southern and TexMex fare with modern touches, such as a pork and quail corn dog with hot sauce (1201 S. Lamar Blvd. Nina Sovich, WSJ, "Austin Getaway: A Grown-Up’s Guide to the Cool-Kid City," 15 Jan. 2020 This little gun could turn you into a quail’s worst first date. Ron Spomer, Outdoor Life, "Shotgun Showdown: 12 Gauge vs. 20 Gauge vs. 28 Gauge," 11 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Biodiversity loss, aquifer drainage, ocean acidification, soil degradation, and, biggest of all, climate change—who can look at this list without quailing? National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 25 Mar. 2020 What the forms of life might be on these many worlds is a question before which even the most speculative mind may quail. Scientific American, "Beings That Are Smarter than Humans Inhabit the Galaxy," 23 Jan. 2020 Even devoted readers of literary fiction might quail before novels celebrated for their obscure, metafictional plots. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Ben Lerner’s brilliant new novel, ‘The Topeka School,’ captures America’s brutal divisions," 7 Oct. 2019 At least a few Republican senators may similarly quail at handing a difficult, non-partisan job to a lightly qualified politician. The Economist, "Donald Trump wants a loyalist as America’s top intelligence official," 3 Aug. 2019 The Nazis organized with little public attention but have quailed under the scrutiny applied to them in the wake of Charlottesville. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Aubtin Heydari was nearly killed at the Charlottesville rally last year. This is his story.," 10 Aug. 2018 Not so long ago, the FBI would have quailed at the idea of running an informant into any U.S. political operation—even into, say, a congressman under criminal investigation for bribery or corruption. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Will the FBI Come Clean?," 5 July 2018 Michael is a sharp comic creation, with the vocabulary of a longtime theater devotee but the quailing innocence of a kid who still has a lot to learn. Daniel D'addario, Time, "Best TV Shows of 2018 So Far," 30 May 2018 On Friday, Kathleen Breen Combes lit up the stage with sensual, righteous fury; one look and Aurora’s parents quailed with guilt. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Ballet reawakens ‘Sleeping Beauty’," 12 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of quail

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb

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

History and Etymology for quail

Noun

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

Verb

Middle English, from Middle Dutch quelen

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about quail

Time Traveler for quail

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about quail

Statistics for quail

Last Updated

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quail. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for quail

quail

noun
How to pronounce quail (audio)

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

quail

verb

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

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

quail

noun
\ 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

quail

verb
quailed; quailing

Kids Definition of quail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lose courage : draw back in fear

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on quail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quail

Spanish Central: Translation of quail

Nglish: Translation of quail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quail for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about quail

Comments on quail

What made you want to look up quail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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