1 [kweyl]
noun, plural quails (especially collectively) quail.
a small, migratory, gallinaceous game bird, Coturnix coturnix, of the Old World.
any of several other birds of the genus Coturnix and allied genera.
any of various New World gallinaceous game birds of the genus Colinus and allied genera, especially the bobwhite.
Slang. a woman or girl.

1300–50; Middle English quaille < Old French < Germanic; compare Dutch kwakkel quail, Middle Dutch, Middle Low German quackele; akin to quack1

quaillike, adjective
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2 [kweyl]
verb (used without object)
to lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger; shrink with fear.

1400–50; late Middle English < Middle Dutch quelen, queilen

unquailing, adjective

recoil, flinch, blench, cower. See wince1.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
quail1 (kweɪl)
n , pl quails, quail
1.  any small Old World gallinaceous game bird of the genus Coturnix and related genera, having a rounded body and small tail: family Phasianidae (pheasants)
2.  any of various similar and related American birds, such as the bobwhite
[C14: from Old French quaille, from Medieval Latin quaccula, probably of imitative origin]

quail2 (kweɪl)
(intr) to shrink back with fear; cower
[C15: perhaps from Old French quailler, from Latin coāgulāre to curdle]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

c.1300, quayle, from O.Fr. quaille, perhaps via M.L. quaccula (cf. Prov. calha, It. quaglia, O.Sp. coalla), from a Gmc. source (cf. O.H.G. quahtala "quail," Ger. Wachtel), imitative of the bird's cry. Or the Eng. word may be directly from Gmc. Slang meaning "young attractive woman" first recorded 1859.

"to lose heart, to shrink," mid-15c., of unknown origin, perhaps from M.Du. quelen "to suffer, be ill," from P.Gmc. *kwel- "to die" (see quell). Or from obsolete quail "to curdle" (late 14c.), from O.Fr. coailler, from L. coagulare (see
coagulate). Sense of "cower" is attested from 1550s. Common 1520-1650, then rare until 19c.; apparently revived by Scott.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Quails definition

The Israelites were twice relieved in their privation by a miraculous supply of quails, (1) in the wilderness of Sin (Ex. 16:13), and (2) again at Kibroth-hattaavah (q.v.), Num. 11:31. God "rained flesh upon them as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea" (Ps. 78:27). The words in Num. 11:31, according to the Authorized Version, appear to denote that the quails lay one above another to the thickness of two cubits above the ground. The Revised Version, however, reads, "about two cubits above the face of the earth", i.e., the quails flew at this height, and were easily killed or caught by the hand. Being thus secured in vast numbers by the people, they "spread them all abroad" (11:32) in order to salt and dry them. These birds (the Coturnix vulgaris of naturalists) are found in countless numbers on the shores of the Mediterranean, and their annual migration is an event causing great excitement.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences for Quails
Many ground birds, such as quails and pheasants, roost in trees.
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