wassail

wassail

[wos-uhl, -eyl, was-, wo-seyl]
noun
1.
a salutation wishing health to a person, used in England in early times when presenting a cup of drink or when drinking to the person.
2.
a festivity or revel with drinking of healths.
3.
liquor for drinking and wishing health to others on festive occasions, especially spiced ale, as on Christmas Eve and Twelfth-night.
4.
Archaic. a song sung in wassailing.
verb (used without object)
5.
to revel with drinking.
verb (used with object)
6.
to drink to the health or success of; toast.

Origin:
1175–1225; Middle English was-hail, equivalent to was be (Old English wæs, variant of wes, imperative of wesan to be; akin to was) + hail hale1, in good health (< Old Norse heill hale); replacing Old English wæs hāl be hale or whole. See whole, heal

wassailer, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
wassail (ˈwɒseɪl)
 
n
1.  (formerly) a toast or salutation made to a person at festivities
2.  a festivity when much drinking takes place
3.  alcoholic drink drunk at such a festivity, esp spiced beer or mulled wine
4.  the singing of Christmas carols, going from house to house
5.  archaic a drinking song
 
vb
6.  to drink the health of (a person) at a wassail
7.  (intr) to go from house to house singing carols at Christmas
 
[C13: from Old Norse ves heill be in good health; related to Old English wes hāl; see hale1]
 
'wassailer
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

wassail
c.1140, from O.N. ves heill "be healthy," a salutation, from ves, imperative of vesa "to be" (see was) + heill "healthy" (see health). Use as a drinking phrase appears to have arisen among Danes in England and spread to native inhabitants. A similar
formation appears in O.E. wes þu hal, but this is not recorded as a drinking salutation. Sense extended c.1300 to "liquor in which healths were drunk," especially spiced ale used in Christmas Eve celebrations. Meaning "a carousal, reveling" first attested 1602. Wassailing "custom of going caroling house to house at Christmas time" is recorded from 1742.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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