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

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Synonyms for wassail

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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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 13th 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. The verb wassail was first used in the 14th century 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. Seventeenth-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 Diners may bring their own wine or enjoy the hot wassail that will be provided. Joanne Berger Dumound/special To Cleveland.com., cleveland.com, "Meals on Wheels clients receive extra help this season: Olmsted Dates and Data," 22 Dec. 2017 The historical society hosted its annual Victorian tea to show off the seasonal decor and to welcome patrons to enjoy hors oeuvres, desserts, traditional wassail and tea. Linda G. Kramer, cleveland.com, "Berea Historical Society welcomes Christmas with Victorian Tea: Community Voices," 10 Dec. 2017 Bayfield These annual wassail dinner concerts delight both the ears and taste buds. Travel Wisconsin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin’s Festive Feasts," 27 Oct. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb There was toasting and wassailing all around And cinnamon sticks in yule logs were wrapped and bound. Marc Bona, cleveland.com, "Great Lakes Brewing's Christmas Ale First Pour party is here (photos, video)," 26 Oct. 2017

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for wassail

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

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More Definitions for wassail


How to pronounce wassail (audio) How to pronounce wassail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wassail

old-fashioned : a hot alcoholic drink that is traditionally served in a large bowl especially at Christmastime

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wassail

Nglish: Translation of wassail for Spanish Speakers

Comments on wassail

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an agreement to stop fighting a war

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