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

Learn More About wale

Time Traveler for wale

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near wale




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wale

Cite this Entry

“Wale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wale. Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on wale

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wale


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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