as in to cringe
to draw back or crouch down in fearful submission brave resisters who did not quail before the tyrant's iron hand

Synonyms & Similar Words

Synonym Chooser

How is the word quail distinct from other similar verbs?

Some common synonyms of quail are blench, flinch, recoil, shrink, and wince. While all these words mean "to draw back in fear or distaste," quail suggests shrinking and cowering in fear.

quailed before the apparition

When is it sensible to use blench instead of quail?

Although the words blench and quail have much in common, blench implies fainthearted flinching.

stood their ground without blenching

Where would flinch be a reasonable alternative to quail?

The meanings of flinch and quail largely overlap; however, flinch implies a failure to endure pain or face something dangerous or frightening with resolution.

faced her accusers without flinching

When would recoil be a good substitute for quail?

The synonyms recoil and quail are sometimes interchangeable, but recoil implies a start or movement away through shock, fear, or disgust.

recoiled at the suggestion of stealing

When could shrink be used to replace quail?

In some situations, the words shrink and quail are roughly equivalent. However, shrink suggests an instinctive recoil through sensitiveness, scrupulousness, or cowardice.

shrank from the unpleasant truth

When can wince be used instead of quail?

The words wince and quail can be used in similar contexts, but wince suggests a slight involuntary physical reaction (such as a start or recoiling).

winced in pain


Thesaurus Entries Near quail

Cite this Entry

“Quail.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/quail. Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

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