Aug 6, 2016

Wordology, Whale, Wail, and Wale

A whale is a large marine mammal, one of the larger cetacean mammals that has flippers, a streamlined body, and a blowhole. The word whale may also be used as an adjective to signify something outstanding or impressive, and used as a verb to mean to thrash soundly, to beat upon, or to go fishing for whales. The word whale is derived from the Old English word hwæl.

A wail is a high-pitched cry of grief, anger, or pain. Wail may be used as a noun or a verb. Wail is also used by American jazz musicians to mean 'play well', as in, he can sure wail on that sax. Wail comes from the Old Norse word væla, which means to lament.


A wale is the welt that raises up on the skin after a whipping. Wale may also be used to refer to a ridge of corduroy fabric or the weave of a fabric in general. Wale also refers to the horizontal band on a basket. Wale is derived from the Old English word walu, which means ridge of earth or stone, as well as stripe or weal.