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
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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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Example sentences
But I neither quiver nor quail.
His beloved English setter waits for the chance to hunt pheasant and quail.
After returning home he goes quail shooting every two weeks without fail.
The greater sage grouse, looking much like an oversize quail, is declining
Images for quail
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