wail vs whale : Common Errors in English

About wail vs whale

One informal meaning of “whale” is “to beat.” Huck Finn says of Pap that “He used to always whale me when he was sober.” Although the vocalist in a band may wail a song, the drummer whales on the drums; and lead guitarists when they thrash their instruments wildly whale on them.Although this usage dates back to the 18th century and used to be common in Britain and America, it is now confined mostly to the US, and even there people often mistakenly use “wail” for this meaning.

wail Meaning(s)

  • (n) a cry of sorrow and grief
  • (v) emit long loud cries
  • (v) cry weakly or softly

whale Meaning(s)

  • (n) a very large person; impressive in size or qualities
  • (n) any of the larger cetacean mammals having a streamlined body and breathing through a blowhole on the head
  • (v) hunt for whales

wail in News

  1. London rock: Trio brings neo-British invasion to Riverbend (June 14)

    Even if you couldn't tell from how easily his voice slips into an upper-register wail from a basement growl, you could see the musical DNA of Leogun frontman Tommy Smith in every curly blond lock falling oh-so-very-Robert Plant-like from his head.
    on June 13, 2013 Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press

  2. Local Natives take flight into the dark with their new album

    By the time the Local Natives' Kelcey Ayer croons the first words to the lead-off track of his band's new album Hummingbird , he sounds tired and beaten, his high tenor a lonesome wail lamenting lost love.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: Charleston City Paper

whale in News

  1. Dead whale washes up on beach near Ocean Shores

    A deputy patrolling the beaches near Ocean Shores found the carcass of a dead whale Thursday morning. The 68-foot Fin whale was found about four miles north of Ocean Shores. Cascadia Research and Washington Fish and Wildlife officials are doing a necropsy to determine the cause of the whale’s death.
    on June 14, 2013 Source: KIRO 7 Seattle-Tacoma

  2. Whale found beached along Washington coast

    Warning: Some images of the dead whale in this story may be disturbing. A dead whale was found beached Wednesday night along the Washington Coast. A Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife employee said the possible fin, sei or blue whale, came in about three miles north of Ocean City. Cascadia Research said it wasn’t sure what species the whale was because it had lost a lot of skin.  
    on June 14, 2013 Source: KING5 Seattle

  3. Whale-watchers report huge spike in local humpback sightings

    Whale-watchers have seen a dramatic increase in humpback whale sightings in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca during the past few weeks, the Pacific Whale Watch Association reports.
    on June 12, 2013 Source: KOMO Seattle

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