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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
weep and wail (=cry and make loud sad noises – often used humorously)
▪ The baby wept and wailed all the way through the ceremony.
▪ With sirens wailing and blue lights flashing the red fire engine sped through the city.
▪ In the distance a siren wailed.
▪ Just for a moment she ignored the by now loud warning sirens wailing at the back of her mind.
▪ A strict blackout was imposed in Pyongyang, and the populace was crowded into underground shelters as air raid sirens wailed.
▪ He was never wrong and, sure enough, when the siren started to wail we learned to dive in with him.
▪ Behind them, in the city, Edouard heard the sirens begin to wail.
▪ Kathleen went with them, Jack followed on his bike, and they raced back with sirens wailing.
▪ Somewhere to the rear a child began to wail.
▪ I begin to wail and Connie looks worried and returns with little funny steps to his corner.
▪ The widow began to wail, and Jane led her away.
▪ The child immediately began to wail.
▪ Behind them, in the city, Edouard heard the sirens begin to wail.
▪ He opened his mouth and began to wail.
▪ "The world is coming to an end!" the woman wailed.
▪ People were wailing on the streets.
▪ Better to leave your audience wailing in the dark, shaking their fists, some crying How?, others why?
▪ Gods, how those clods had wailed when they had seen his proud lion-masked visage!
▪ He wailed and gagged as people walked by.
▪ He started wailing and crying and pulling at the corpses and had to be dragged away.
▪ I begin to wail and Connie looks worried and returns with little funny steps to his corner.
▪ I called Narendra and wailed into the phone.
▪ Moza wailed, her voice hoarse with dread.
▪ Somewhere to the rear a child began to wail.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Wail \Wail\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Wailed; p. pr. & vb. n. Wailing.] [OE. wailen, weilen, probably fr. Icel. v[ae]la; cf. Icel. v[ae], vei, woe, and E. wayment, also OE. wai, wei, woe. Cf. Woe.] To lament; to bewail; to grieve over; as, to wail one's death.


Wail \Wail\, v. i. To express sorrow audibly; to make mournful outcry; to weep.

Therefore I will wail and howl.
--Micah i. 8.


Wail \Wail\, n. Loud weeping; violent lamentation; wailing. ``The wail of the forest.''


Wail \Wail\, v. t. [Cf. Icel. val choice, velja to choose, akin to Goth. waljan, G. w["a]hlen.] To choose; to select. [Obs.] ``Wailed wine and meats.''

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1300 (intransitive); mid-14c. (transitive), from Old Norse væla "to lament," from "woe" (see woe). Of jazz musicians, "to play very well," attested from 1955, American English slang (wailing "excellent" is attested from 1954). Related: Wailed; wailer.


c.1300; see wail (v.).


Etymology 1 n. 1 A prolonged cry, usually high-pitched, especially as of grief or anguish. 2 Any similar sound as of lamentation; a howl. 3 A sound made by emergency vehicle sirens, contrasted with "yelp" which is higher-pitched and faster. vb. 1 (context intransitive English) To cry out, as in sorrow or anguish. 2 (context intransitive English) To weep, lament persistently or bitterly. 3 (context intransitive English) To make a noise like mourning or crying. 4 (context transitive English) To lament; to bewail; to grieve over. 5 (context slang music English) To perform with great liveliness and force. Etymology 2

vb. (context obsolete English) To choose; to select.

  1. n. a cry of sorrow and grief; "their pitiful laments could be heard throughout the ward" [syn: lament, lamentation, plaint]

  2. v. emit long loud cries; "wail in self-pity"; "howl with sorrow" [syn: howl, ululate, roar, yawl]

  3. cry weakly or softly; "she wailed with pain" [syn: whimper, mewl, pule]


WAIL (99.5 FM) is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock format. Licensed to Key West, Florida, USA, the station serves the Florida Keys area. The station is currently owned by Robert Holladay, through licensee Florida Keys Media, LLC.

Usage examples of "wail".

Berry was aroused by an unusual prolonged wailing of the child, which showed that no one was comforting it, and failing to get any answer to her applications for admittance, she made bold to enter.

We recalled the wailing, which could be heard throughout the entire atelier, of the scrawny apprentice who walked toward the door, satchel in hand, having been sent back home because the intensity of the work caused one of his eyes to wander.

Another, and another wail, while the wretched man hurries off, stopping his ears in vain against those piercing cries, which follow him, like avenging angels, through the dreadful vaults.

Muses bedew their cheeks with tears, in his strait is heard on every side the wailing appeal to us, and to avoid the danger of impending death he shows the slight sign of the ancient tonsure which we bestowed upon him, begging that we may be called to his aid and bear witness to the privilege bestowed upon him.

Hank Bindle wailed to a passing Arab, loud enough for Marmelstein to hear.

Unfortunately, her voice carried to Birdie, who glared at Paige and wailed even louder.

She struggled indefatigably, grunting at each fresh effort, while through the flimsy partition the voice of the Caddles infant wailed.

She does not succeed and shoots by Chib, wailing, on her back, her feet up in the air.

Anyhow the malevolence of the Culex fasciatus would justify the suspicion that some wicked human soul had been compressed into that wailing speck of a body.

Now, I can tell you, that your auld Laird is disturbed in his grave by your curses, and the wailing of your family, and if ye daur venture to go to see him, he will give you the receipt.

He seemed not to hearken, but turned about once, and beat the air with his hands, and then fell down on his back and with a great wail she cast herself upon him, for she deemed at first that he was dead.

The cousin whose husband had been killed in Belgium, leaving a young widow and two children scarcely younger and more helpless than herself, had no relation nearer than Dowie, and had sent forth to the good woman a frantic wail for help in her desolation.

He was wincing repeatedly, not from the insulting blows that had been rained on him previously but from the screeching, wailing sounds the abused duar was producing.

She is wealthy and has everything she wants, and yet she is always wailing, while Dyce is as happy as the day is long.

The man wailed and glanced forlornly at his utterly embarrassed friends.