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[weyl] /weɪl/
verb (used without object)
to utter a prolonged, inarticulate, mournful cry, usually high-pitched or clear-sounding, as in grief or suffering:
to wail with pain.
to make mournful sounds, as music or the wind.
to lament or mourn bitterly.
Jazz. to perform exceptionally well.
Slang. to express emotion musically or verbally in an exciting, satisfying way.
verb (used with object)
to express deep sorrow for; mourn; lament; bewail:
to wail the dead; to wail one's fate.
to express in wailing; cry or say in lamentation:
to wail one's grief.
the act of wailing.
a wailing cry, as of grief, pain, or despair.
any similar mournful sound:
the wail of an old tune.
Origin of wail
1300-50; Middle English weile (v. and noun), perhaps derivative of Old English weilā(wei) well-away; compare Old English wǣlan to torment, Old Norse wǣla to wail
Related forms
wailer, noun
wailingly, adverb
unwailed, adjective
unwailing, adjective
Can be confused
wail, whale. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for wailing
  • He was convinced she had left him and started crying and wailing for his mommy.
  • Now they have the treaty, many of the same people are muttering and wailing about unresolved problems hidden in its leaden prose.
  • wailing, which starts a typical hyrax song, indicates weight.
  • On cue, an argument begins about the removal of a body, accompanied by wailing and weeping.
  • She blogged about it to great wailing and gnashing of teeth.
  • Fiends in human guise greeted the dawn by wailing for half an hour on didgeridoos.
  • We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry.
  • Please be the beef, please beef, pleasure is not wailing.
  • It was wailing and laughing, sobbing and groaning, and ever and again it shouted.
  • The film's dreadfully pertinent soundtrack consists of wailing, clanging music heard steadily in the background.
British Dictionary definitions for wailing


(intransitive) to utter a prolonged high-pitched cry, as of grief or misery
(intransitive) to make a sound resembling such a cry: the wind wailed in the trees
(transitive) to lament, esp with mournful sounds
a prolonged high-pitched mournful cry or sound
Derived Forms
wailer, noun
wailful, adjective
wailfully, adverb
Word Origin
C14: of Scandinavian origin; related to Old Norse vǣla to wail, Old English woe
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wailing



early 14c., from Old Norse væla "to lament," from "woe" (see woe). Of jazz musicians, "to play very well," attested from 1955, American English slang (wailing "excellent" is attested from 1954). Related: Wailed.


c.1400; see wail (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wailing



: By passing his vocal sounds through an amplifier with the aid of a wah-wah pedal, he has achieved spectacular effects/ Mike McCready's wahwah pedaling?

  1. A pronounced wavering, scooping sound from an instrument, the voice, etc: imitations of animal sounds such as wah-wahs on trumpets and trombones/ Then Wah-Wah Waddy breaks into his est funkadeli solo (1920s+ Musicians)
  2. pedal-operated electronic device for producing wah-wahs, esp on electric guitars: the same kind of highly-perfected control over use of the wah-wah, distortion, and amplifier

[echoic; interestingly similar to Chinook jargon wawa, ''speech, talk,'' and to Cree wawa, an echoic name for the snow goose, Canada goose, and gray goose]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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