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[eyl] /eɪl/
verb (used with object)
to cause pain, uneasiness, or trouble to.
verb (used without object)
to be unwell; feel pain; be ill:
He's been ailing for some time.
Origin of ail
before 950; Middle English ail, eilen, Old English eglan to afflict (cognate with Middle Low German egelen annoy, Gothic -agljan), derivative of egle painful; akin to Gothic agls shameful, Sanskrit aghám evil, pain
Can be confused
ale, ail, awl.
1. bother, annoy, distress. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for ail
Historical Examples
  • At this instant the chief surgeon was beginning to feel the injured thigh and point out to the pupils the extent of the ail.

    The Mesmerist's Victim Alexandre Dumas
  • O, what can ail thee, knight at arms, So haggard and so woe-begone?

    Mitch Miller Edgar Lee Masters
  • After ail, this was the point for the sake of which those laborious investigations had been undertaken.

    Edward Caldwell Moore Edward Moore
  • Weel, maybe I was thinkin' hoo I wad leuk at her gin onything did ail her.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • Adjectives in ail derived from Nouns; as, from fear man, fearail manful; from caraid a friend, cairdail contr.

    Elements of Gaelic Grammar Alexander Stewart
  • The adult ram is signified by the word "ayil," or "ail," and the ewe by "rakal."

    Bible Animals; J. G. Wood
  • Abe Hardin', for heaven's sakes, can't you pick up your moorin's, or what does ail you?

    Galusha the Magnificent Joseph C. Lincoln
  • No, nothing might ail him bodily; but mentally—ah, how much!

    Johnny Ludlow, Sixth Series Mrs. Henry Wood
  • O souls what ail thee, its envy's dark cloud broader than the earth, and deeper than the sea.

    The Secret of the Creation Howard D. Pollyen
  • His shin and his knee are hardly to be seen to ail any thing.

    Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for ail


(transitive) to trouble; afflict
(intransitive) to feel unwell
Word Origin
Old English eglan to trouble, from egle troublesome, painful, related to Gothic agls shameful
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 ail

c.1300, from Old English eglan "to trouble, plague, afflict," from Proto-Germanic *azljaz (cf. Old English egle "hideous, loathsome, troublesome, painful;" Gothic agls "shameful, disgraceful," agliþa "distress, affliction, hardship," us-agljan "to oppress, afflict"), from PIE *agh-lo-, suffixed form of root *agh- "to be depressed, be afraid." Related: Ailed; ailing; ails.

It is remarkable, that this word is never used but with some indefinite term, or the word no thing; as What ails him? ... Thus we never say, a fever ails him. [Johnson]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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