was·​sail | \ ˈwä-səl How to pronounce wassail (audio) also wä-ˈsāl How to pronounce wassail (audio) \

Definition of wassail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an early English toast to someone's health
2 : a hot drink that is made with wine, beer, or cider, spices, sugar, and usually baked apples and is traditionally served in a large bowl especially at Christmastime
3 : riotous drinking : revelry


wassailed; wassailing; wassails

Definition of wassail (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to indulge in wassail : carouse
2 dialectal, England : to sing carols from house to house at Christmas

transitive verb

: to drink to the health or thriving of

Synonyms for wassail

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?

The salutation wassail, from the Old Norse toast ves heill ("be well"), has accompanied English toast-making since the 12th century. By the 14th century, wassail was being used for the drink itself, and it eventually came to be used especially of a hot drink (of wine, beer, or cider with spices, sugar, and usually baked apples) drunk around Christmastime. This beverage warmed the stomachs and hearts of many Christmas revelers and was often shared with Christmas carolers. In the 14th century the verb wassail also came to describe the carousing associated with indulgence in the drink; later, it was used of other activities associated with wassail and the holiday season, like caroling. 17th-century farmers added cattle and trees to the wassail tradition by drinking to their health or vitality during wintertime festivities.

Examples of wassail in a Sentence

Noun woke up with a terrible headache from a wild wassail the night before Verb the knights feasted and wassailed for three days after the battlefield victory
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The concert is followed by Trinity’s traditional Wassail Party, where concertgoers can gather with friends, meet new ones, and talk with the performers while enjoying holiday treats and hot wassail. oregonlive, 15 Dec. 2021 Afterward, set intentions fireside with a complimentary wassail, a warming drink. Jennifer Kester, Forbes, 10 Dec. 2021 Glogg wines have many forms, including gluhwein (German) and wassail (English). Maria Shine Stewart, cleveland, 6 Dec. 2021 Later, after singing carols by the Christmas tree, everyone helps themselves, ladling wassail into their glass cups. The Official Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook, Town & Country, 4 Nov. 2020 Doors open 45 minutes before to enjoy wassail punch and cookies. Joan Rusek, cleveland, 16 Dec. 2019 What these tours teach is how rich white Southerners once celebrated Christmas: singing Christmas carols, dancing, drinking the cider brew wassail and enjoying refreshments or formal meals. Robert E. May, The Conversation, 12 Dec. 2019 Free to the public, the fun begins with Christmas caroling at 7 p.m., followed by treats of gingerbread and wassail and a visit from Santa Claus. Carissa D. Lamkahouan, Houston Chronicle, 29 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Reisinger's Apple Country, located in Watkins Glen on Seneca Lake, also has a wassailing event on the horizon. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, 20 Jan. 2018 There was toasting and wassailing all around And cinnamon sticks in yule logs were wrapped and bound. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, 26 Oct. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wassail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wassail


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

History and Etymology for wassail


Middle English wæs hæil, washayl, from Old Norse ves heill be well, from ves (imperative singular of vera to be) + heill healthy — more at was, whole

Learn More About wassail

Time Traveler for wassail

Time Traveler

The first known use of wassail was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About wassail

Dictionary Entries Near wassail



wassail bowl

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for wassail

Cite this Entry

“Wassail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wassail. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on wassail

Nglish: Translation of wassail for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
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!