noun (1)
\ ˈwāl How to pronounce wale (audio) \

Definition of wale

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : a streak or ridge made on the skin especially by the stroke of a whip : welt
b : a narrow raised surface : ridge
2 : any of a number of strakes usually of extra thick and strong planks in the sides of a wooden ship usually used in plural
3a : one of a series of even ribs in a fabric
b : the texture especially of a fabric
4 : a horizontal constructional member (as of timber or steel) used for bracing vertical members


verb (1)
waled; waling

Definition of wale (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

: to mark with welts wale the skin


noun (2)

Definition of wale (Entry 3 of 4)

1 dialectal British : choice
2 dialectal British : the best part : pick


verb (2)
waled; waling; wales

Definition of wale (Entry 4 of 4)

dialectal British
: choose

First Known Use of wale

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wale

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English walu; akin to Old Norse vǫlr staff and perhaps to Old Norse valr round, Latin volvere to roll — more at voluble

Noun (2)

Middle English (Scots & northern dialect) wal, from Old Norse val; akin to Old High German wala choice, Old English wyllan to wish — more at will

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The first known use of wale was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Wale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wale. Accessed 1 Aug. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wale


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