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a suffix of names of orders:
< Latin plural of -ālis -al1


[eyl] /eɪl/
a malt beverage, darker, heavier, and more bitter than beer, containing about 6 percent alcohol by volume.
British, beer.
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
Can be confused
ale, ail, awl. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for ales
  • Learn how tavern keepers brewed their beer and ales.
  • Some beer styles are loved, some are ardently despised, but none is more divisive than pumpkin ales.
  • Celebrate the season with a sip of now arriving winter ales and lagers at one of the best seasonal beer festivals.
  • There's a decent selection of real ales, and the home-made bar snacks are tempting-even the scotch eggs and sausage rocks.
  • The town is noted for its long heritage of brewing, and hand-crafted ales are still produced there today.
  • The hotel has a heated indoor pool and an on-site restaurant, and the pub serves traditional ales and ciders.
  • The pub offers a wide variety of specially brewed beers and ales, both domestic and imported.
  • The full-service bar is open throughout the day, with a varied selection of wines and traditional ales.
  • The pub serves real ales and locally-produced wines.
  • The on-site brew pub offers delicious lunch and dinner and tasty ales straight from the source.
British Dictionary definitions for ales


a beer fermented in an open vessel using yeasts that rise to the top of the brew Compare beer, lager1
(formerly) an alcoholic drink made by fermenting a cereal, esp barley, but differing from beer by being unflavoured by hops
(mainly Brit) another word for beer
Word Origin
Old English alu, ealu; related to Old Norse öl, Old Saxon alofat


denoting plants belonging to an order: Rosales, Filicales
Word Origin
New Latin, from Latin, plural of -ālis-al1
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 ales



Old English ealu "ale, beer," from Proto-Germanic *aluth- (cf. Old Saxon alo, Old Norse öl), perhaps from PIE root meaning "bitter" (cf. Latin alumen "alum"), or from PIE *alu-t "ale," from root *alu-, which has connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, intoxication." The word was borrowed from Germanic into Lithuanian (alus) and Old Church Slavonic (olu).

In the fifteenth century, and until the seventeenth, ale stood for the unhopped fermented malt liquor which had long been the native drink of these islands. Beer was the hopped malt liquor introduced from the Low Countires in the fifteenth century and popular first of all in the towns. By the eighteenth century, however, all malt liquor was hopped and there had been a silent mutation in the meaning of the two terms. For a time the terms became synonymous, in fact, but local habits of nomenclature still continued to perpetuate what had been a real difference: 'beer' was the malt liquor which tended to be found in towns, 'ale' was the term in general use in the country districts. [Peter Mathias, "The Brewing Industry in England," Cambridge University Press, 1959]
Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in Old English (see bridal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Related Abbreviations for ales


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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