v. wailed, wail·ing, wails
1. To make a long, loud, high-pitched cry, as in grief, sorrow, or fear. See Synonyms at cry.
2. To make a prolonged, high-pitched sound suggestive of a cry: The wind wailed through the trees.
To lament over; bewail.
1. A long, loud, high-pitched cry, as of grief or pain.
2. A long, loud, high-pitched sound: the wail of a siren.
3. A loud, bitter protest: A wail of misery went up when new parking restrictions were announced.
[Middle English wailen, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse vāla, vǣla.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.