Word of the Day : September 5, 2018

banshee

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noun BAN-shee

Definition

: 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 sídhe (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, as in "a banshee wail."


Examples

"The family is reputed to have its own banshee that howls when one of them is going to die. Corran remembered that on receiving reports that the banshee had been heard, telegrams were sent to everyone in the family to find out if they were all right." — The Daily Telegraph (London), 16 July 2018

"Moments after the banshee wail of the air raid siren began, the teacher of my Grade 6 class shouted, 'Under the desks, children! Quickly!'" — Ken Cuthertson, The Globe and Mail (Canada), 14 April 2018



Test Your Vocabulary

Unscramble the letters to create the name of a water sprite of Scottish folklore that brings about the drowning of travelers: EKEIPL.

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