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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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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