: a female spirit in Gaelic folklore whose appearance or wailing warns a family that one of them will soon die
Did You Know?
In Irish folklore, a "bean sidhe" (literally "woman of fairyland") was not a welcome guest. When she was seen combing her hair or heard wailing beneath a window, it was considered a sign that a family member was about to die. English speakers modified the mournful fairy's Irish name into the modern word "banshee" -- a term we now most often use to evoke her woeful or terrible or earsplitting cry, as in "to scream like a banshee," or attributively, "a banshee wail."
Barbara screamed like a banshee when she saw the spider slowly crawling up her leg.
"Wednesday's audience howled like banshees." -- From a theater review by Chris Silk in Florida's Naples Daily News, April 8, 2011
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