wail

verb
\ ˈwāl \
wailed; wailing; wails

Definition of wail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to express sorrow audibly : lament
2 : to make a sound suggestive of a mournful cry
3 : to express dissatisfaction plaintively : complain

transitive verb

1 archaic : bewail
2 : to say or express plaintively wailed that her cake was ruined

wail

noun

Definition of wail (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or practice of wailing : loud lamentation
2a : a usually prolonged cry or sound expressing grief or pain
b : a sound suggestive of wailing the wail of an air-raid siren
c : a querulous expression of grievance : complaint

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Other Words from wail

Verb

wailer \ ˈwā-​lər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for wail

Synonyms: Verb

beef, bellyache, bitch, bleat, carp, caterwaul, complain, crab, croak, fuss, gripe, grizzle, grouch, grouse, growl, grumble, grump, holler, inveigh, keen, kick, kvetch, maunder [chiefly British], moan, murmur, mutter, nag, repine, scream, squawk, squeal, whimper, whine, whinge [British], yammer, yawp (or yaup), yowl

Synonyms: Noun

groan, howl, keen, lament, lamentation, moan, plaint

Antonyms: Verb

crow, delight, rejoice

Antonyms: Noun

exultation, rejoicing

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Examples of wail in a Sentence

Verb

The child started wailing after she stumbled and fell. A saxophone wailed in the background. “No! I don't want to go!” he wailed. She wailed that the vacation was ruined.

Noun

the wail of a siren a prolonged wail arose from every corner of the city as the victims of the earthquake were unearthed from the rubble
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The woman’s daughter, a young child, began wailing. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Fleeing Poverty and Violence, Central American Women Explain Why They Join Caravans," 4 Dec. 2018 With air raid sirens wailing throughout southern Israel and the explosions of airstrikes thundering in Gaza, the sides had appeared to be headed to what would have been their fourth war in a decade. Fares Akram, The Seattle Times, "Cease-fire takes hold between Israel and Hamas," 13 Nov. 2018 Despite his music’s wailing and thrashing, and ever-changing moods and tempos, the works were cohesive and rooted in jazz traditions. Marc Myers, WSJ, "‘Jazz in Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Selden’ by Charles Mingus Review: The Jazz Star’s Rocky Year," 5 Nov. 2018 Carrie asked Mike after listening to him wail out the words, to the amusement of their three-year-old son in the backseat. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Carrie Underwood's Husband Mike Fisher Hints At 'New Music' in Instagram Post," 14 Oct. 2018 Voters recoiled from the policy, revolted by vivid pictures of children kept in pens made of chain-link fence and audio of toddlers wailing for their parents. Chris Brennan, Philly.com, "Lou Barletta rolls with Trump, as president shifts policy at border," 25 June 2018 Or had the full moon moved them to whirl and the animal to wail? Lance Esplund, WSJ, "A Life-Changing Art Encounter," 23 Nov. 2018 The trailer has everything your abuela loves to talk about, including a priest offering grave omens, and a woman wailing in aggrieved Spanglish. Ella Cerón, Teen Vogue, ""The Curse of Lla Llorona" Trailer Is 2 Minutes and 15 Seconds of Mexican Folklore Terror," 18 Oct. 2018 Instead, viewers got a chorus led by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Andra Day, willfully ceding the spotlight to a distraught Kesha, who whispered and wailed and struggled through the night's most authentic performance. 7. Maeve Mcdermott, USA TODAY, "Brutally honest rankings of every 2018 Grammy performance," 28 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

If something trips the system and nobody enters the disarming code in time, a built-in alarm wails. David Pierce, WSJ, "Home Security Systems That Are Fast, Easy and Totally Not Creepy," 26 Aug. 2018 Juice WRLD sings in his now-signature thin wail, typically put in service of far lighter subject matter. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "The Playlist: Paul McCartney’s Smooth Tunes, and 13 More New Songs," 22 June 2018 Why aren’t the recorded wails of her mother and the tears of her father enough for the whole world to be demanding justice right now? Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "When Feminism Is White Supremacy in Heels," 16 Aug. 2018 The overlap created new drones, rhythms, rumbles and wails, with the whole ensemble gradually increasing the sound to a nearly unbearable volume and intensity. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "‘The Force of Things’ Review: Music Made Visible," 7 Aug. 2018 An electric guitar wails, and a keyboard chimes right in. Kristina Stewart Ward, ELLE Decor, "Gilles Mendel's Fashion-Forward Home," 5 Jan. 2010 Then, cue the ambulance wails as an EMT truck pulls up to the mansion, which, in itself, is one of Quinn's favorite scandal-upping tactic on UnReal. refinery29.com, "Making Sense Of The Ambulance Drama On The Bachelorette," 12 June 2018 The most important ingredient was Bennington’s wail and whisper, a volatile fuel to be processed by the others. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Linkin Park Gave to Pop Music," 25 June 2018 No gunfight was heard; instead men can be heard talking before gunshots ring out, followed by the wail of the dying man. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "138 people killed in 2 months in Bangladesh police crackdown on drug dealers," 12 July 2018

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

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wail

Verb

Middle English weilen, waylen, perhaps modification (influenced by Middle English weilawei wellaway) of Old Norse væla, vāla to wail; akin to Old Norse vei woe — more at woe

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Learn More about wail

Dictionary Entries near wail

Waiilatpuan

Waikato

Waikiki

wail

Wailaki

wailful

wailingly

Statistics for wail

Last Updated

11 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wail

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

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More Definitions for wail

wail

verb

English Language Learners Definition of wail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to make a loud, long cry of sadness or pain

: to make a long, high sound

: to complain in a loud voice

wail

noun

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

: a long cry of sadness or pain

: a long, high sound

wail

verb
\ ˈwāl \
wailed; wailing

Kids Definition of wail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to make a long, loud cry of pain or grief
2 : to complain with a loud voice

wail

noun

Kids Definition of wail (Entry 2 of 2)

: a long cry of grief or pain

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More from Merriam-Webster on wail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wail

Spanish Central: Translation of wail

Nglish: Translation of wail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wail for Arabic Speakers

Comments on wail

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