before 950; Middle English; Old English (e)alu (genitive ealoth); cognate with Old Saxon alo-, Middle Dutch ale, ael, Old Norse ǫl; Lithuanian alùs, OCS olŭ; Finnish, Estonian olut; areal word of North Europe

ale, ail, awl. Unabridged


additional living expense. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
ale (eɪl)
1.  beer Compare lager a beer fermented in an open vessel using yeasts that rise to the top of the brew
2.  (formerly) an alcoholic drink made by fermenting a cereal, esp barley, but differing from beer by being unflavoured by hops
3.  chiefly (Brit) another word for beer
[Old English alu, ealu; related to Old Norse öl, Old Saxon alofat]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. ealu "ale, beer," from P.Gmc. *aluth- (cf. O.S. alo, O.N. öl), perhaps from PIE root meaning "bitter" (cf. L. alumen "alum"), or from PIE *alu-t "ale," from base *alu-, which has connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, intoxication." The word was borrowed from Gmc. into Lith. (alus) and
O.C.S. (olu). Ale and beer were synonymous until growing of hops began in England early 15c.
"[A]t present 'beer' is in the trade the generic name for all malt liquors, 'ale' being specifically applied to the paler coloured kinds, the malt for which has not been roasted or burnt; but the popular application of the two words varies in different localities." [OED]
Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in O.E. (see bridal). An alehouse (O.E. eala-huse) "is distinguished from a tavern, where they sell wine" [Johnson].
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
additional living expense
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences for ale
For centuries, trading in wool, ale, cakes and cheese created wealth for the town.
Casks used for ale or beer have shives, spiles and keystones in their openings.
However, lager production results in a cleaner tasting, drier and lighter beer than ale.
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