1

wail

play
verb \ˈwāl\

Definition of wail

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to express sorrow audibly :  lament

  3. 2 :  to make a sound suggestive of a mournful cry

  4. 3 :  to express dissatisfaction plaintively :  complain

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 archaic :  bewail

  7. 2 :  to say or express plaintively wailed that her cake was ruined

wailer

play \ˈwā-lər\ noun

Examples of wail in a Sentence

  1. The child started wailing after she stumbled and fell.

  2. A saxophone wailed in the background.

  3. No! I don't want to go! he wailed.

  4. She wailed that the vacation was ruined.

Origin and Etymology of wail

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


First Known Use: 14th century


2

wail

noun

Definition of wail

  1. 1 :  the act or practice of wailing :  loud lamentation

  2. 2a :  a usually prolonged cry or sound expressing grief or painb :  a sound suggestive of wailing the wail of an air-raid sirenc :  a querulous expression of grievance :  complaint

Examples of wail in a Sentence

  1. the wail of a siren

  2. a prolonged wail arose from every corner of the city as the victims of the earthquake were unearthed from the rubble

15th Century

First Known Use of wail

15th century


WAIL Defined for English Language Learners

1

wail

play
verb \ˈwāl\

Definition of wail for English Language Learners

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

  • : to make a long, high sound

  • : to complain in a loud voice

2

wail

noun

Definition of wail for English Language Learners

  • : a long cry of sadness or pain

  • : a long, high sound


WAIL Defined for Kids

1

wail

play
verb \ˈwāl\

Definition of wail for Students

wailed

;

wailing

  1. 1 :  to make a long, loud cry of pain or grief

  2. 2 :  to complain with a loud voice


2

wail

play
noun

Definition of wail for Students

  1. :  a long cry of grief or pain



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

not embarrassed or apologetic

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • winning-words-from-the-national-spelling-bee-logo
  • Which is the correct spelling of the winning word from 1988?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!