from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To grieve or protest loudly and bitterly; lament. See Synonyms at cry.
  • intransitive v. To make a prolonged, high-pitched sound suggestive of a cry: The wind wailed through the trees.
  • transitive v. Archaic To lament over; bewail.
  • n. A long, loud, high-pitched cry, as of grief or pain.
  • n. A long, loud, high-pitched sound: the wail of a siren.
  • n. A loud, bitter protest: A wail of misery went up when new parking restrictions were announced.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A prolonged cry, usually high-pitched, especially as of grief or anguish.
  • n. Any similar sound as of lamentation; a howl.
  • v. To cry out, as in sorrow or anguish.
  • v. To weep, lament persistently or bitterly.
  • v. To make a noise like mourning or crying.
  • v. (music) To perform, express emotion in an exceptionally exciting way.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Loud weeping; violent lamentation; wailing.
  • intransitive v. To express sorrow audibly; to make mournful outcry; to weep.
  • transitive v. To choose; to select.
  • transitive v. To lament; to bewail; to grieve over.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To express sorrow by a mournful inarticulate vocal sound; lament; moan; cry plaintively.
  • To grieve over; lament; bemoan; bewail.
  • See wale.
  • n. The act of lamenting aloud; wailing; a moan; a plaintive cry or sound.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cry of sorrow and grief
  • v. emit long loud cries
  • v. cry weakly or softly


Middle English wailen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse vāla, vǣla.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Probably from Old Norse væla (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.