• IPA: /ˈkweɪl/

quail (quails, present participle quailing; past and past participle quailed)

  1. (intransitive) To waste#Verb|waste away; to fade#Verb|fade, to wither [from 15th c.]
  2. (transitive, now, rare) To daunt or frighten (someone) [from 16th c.]
    • c. 1606–1607, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Anthonie and Cleopatra”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act V, scene ii], page 365 ↗, column 2:
      But when he meant to quaile and shake the Orbe, / He was as ratling Thunder.
    • 1978, Lawrence Durrell, Livia: or, Buried Alive: A Novel, London; Boston, Mass.: Faber and Faber, ISBN 978-0-571-11297-5; republished in The Avignon Quintet, London: Faber, published 1992, ISBN 978-0-571-16328-1, page 358:
      To tell the truth the prospect rather quailed him – wandering about in the gloomy corridors of a nunnery.
  3. (intransitive) To lose heart or courage; to be daunted#Adjective|daunted or fearful. [from 16th c.]
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, “A Quarrel about an Heiress”, in Vanity Fair. A Novel without a Hero, London: Bradbury and Evans, […], published 1848, OCLC 3174108 ↗, page 183 ↗:
      Though George had stopped in his sentence, yet, his blood being up, he was not to be cowed by all the generations of Osborne; rallying instantly, he replied to the bullying look of his father, with another so indicative of resolution and defiance, that the elder man quailed in his turn, and looked away.
    • 1886 January 4, Robert Louis Stevenson, “The Carew Murder Case”, in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., OCLC 762755901 ↗, page 39 ↗:
      Mr. Utterson had already quailed at the name of Hyde; but when the stick was laid before him, he could doubt no longer: broken and battered as it was, he recognized it for one that he had himself presented many years before to Henry Jekyll.
    • 1949 June 8, George Orwell [pseudonym; Eric Arthur Blair], chapter 2, in Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel, London: Secker & Warburg, OCLC 690663892 ↗; republished [Australia]: Project Gutenberg of Australia, August 2001, part 1, page 27 ↗:
      The sun had shifted round, and the myriad windows of the Ministry of Truth, with the light no longer shining on them, looked grim as the loopholes of a fortress. His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape. It was too strong, it could not be stormed.
  4. (intransitive) Of courage, faith, etc.: to slacken, to give way. [from 16th c.]
    • 1869 May, Anthony Trollope, “Hard Words”, in He Knew He Was Right, volume (please specify ), London: Strahan and Company, publishers, […], OCLC 1118026626 ↗, page 77 ↗:
  • Russian: пасова́ть

quail (plural quails)

  1. Any of various small game birds of the genera Coturnix, Anurophasis or Perdicula in the Old World family Phasianidae or of the New World family Odontophoridae.
  2. (uncountable) The meat from this bird eaten as food.
  3. (obsolete) A prostitute, so called because the quail was thought to be a very amorous bird.
Translations Verb

quail (quails, present participle quailing; past and past participle quailed)

  1. To curdle or coagulate, as milk does.

Proper noun
  1. Surname

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