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[bawl] /bɔl/
verb (used without object)
to cry or wail lustily.
verb (used with object)
to utter or proclaim by outcry; shout out:
to bawl one's dissatisfaction; bawling his senseless ditties to the audience.
to offer for sale by shouting, as a hawker:
a peddler bawling his wares.
a loud shout; outcry.
a period or spell of loud crying or weeping.
Chiefly Midland and Western U.S. the noise made by a calf.
Verb phrases
bawl out, Informal. to scold vociferously; reprimand or scold vigorously:
Your father will bawl you out when he sees this mess.
Origin of bawl
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Medieval Latin baulāre to bark < Germanic; compare Old Norse baula to low, baula cow, perhaps a conflation of belja (see bell2) with an old root *bhu-
Related forms
bawler, noun
outbawl, verb (used with object)
Can be confused
bald, balled, bawled.
ball, bawl, bowl.
1. howl, yowl, squall, roar, bellow. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for bawl
Historical Examples
  • What I have got to say is not the sort of thing for me to bawl about.

  • As soon as he came out of ether, he began to bawl for his mother.

    The Backwash of War Ellen N. La Motte
  • Suppose they buck and pitch and sidestep and bawl and carry on?

    Kindred of the Dust Peter B. Kyne
  • I know I'd bawl my eyes out even if it does say there aren't any tears in heaven.

    The Lilac Lady Ruth Alberta Brown
  • You all know her, and know it is not her wont to meddle in politics, or to bawl and bluster.

    Revolutionary Reader Sophie Lee Foster
  • Is the young lady deaf that you want to bawl like a harbour-master?

    The House Under the Sea Sir Max Pemberton
  • She was driven to bawl out her words, and by no means liked the task.

    The Belton Estate Anthony Trollope
  • He gave his orders in writing that he might not have to bawl to a deaf foreman.

  • For five minutes, I bawl at him a series of remarks, each and all of which he misunderstands.

    Nancy Rhoda Broughton
  • Out in the big corrals the cattle were beginning to stir and bawl.

    Tharon of Lost Valley Vingie E. Roe
British Dictionary definitions for bawl


(intransitive) to utter long loud cries, as from pain or frustration; wail
to shout loudly, as in anger
a loud shout or cry
Derived Forms
bawler, noun
bawling, noun
Word Origin
C15: probably from Icelandic baula to low; related to Medieval Latin baulāre to bark, Swedish böla to low; all of imitative origin
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 bawl

mid-15c., "to howl like a dog," from Old Norse baula "to low like a cow," and/or Medieval Latin baulare "to bark like a dog," both echoic. Meaning "to shout loudly" attested from 1590s. To bawl (someone) out "reprimand loudly" is 1908, American English. Related: Bawled; bawling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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