There are 2 main definitions of quail in English:

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quail 1

Syllabification: quail

noun (plural same or quails)

1A small, short-tailed Old World game bird resembling a small partridge, typically having brown camouflaged plumage.
  • Family Phasianidae: three genera, in particular Coturnix, and several species, e.g., the widespread migratory common quail (C. coturnix)
Example sentences
  • Birds such as grouse, crows, quail, partridge, nightjars, cuckoos, shrikes, larks, pipits, merlins, harriers, kestrels and buzzards would all have been seen.
  • During the past seven years, Poppy and husband Pete, who fund the sanctuary themselves, have taken scores of animals and birds under their wing, including geese, dogs, a cow, partridge, pheasant and quail.
  • Once the butter starts to sizzle, add the quail and brown all over (one to two minutes).
2A small or medium-sized New World game bird, the male of which has distinctive facial markings.
  • Family Phasianidae (or Odontophoridae): several genera and many species, including the bobwhite and the Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) of the southwestern US
Example sentences
  • Male quail are often aggressive before and during the breeding season.
  • Callipepla californica are New World quail, birds that have chunky, rounded bodies and crests or head plumes.
  • But then a new male and female California quail strolled into the yard with a recently hatched brood of five chicks.


Middle English: from Old French quaille, from medieval Latin coacula (probably imitative of its call).

Words that rhyme with quail

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Definition of quail in:
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There are 2 main definitions of quail in English:

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quail 2 Syllabification: quail


[no object]
Feel or show fear or apprehension: she quailed at his heartless words
More example sentences
  • I knew that the arête would have to be surmounted and I quailed in fear.
  • So I stayed there, and the cat joined me, and we quailed and quaked and waited for it to stop.
  • I remember quailing in horror at the American charts in those days.
cower, cringe, flinch, shrink, recoil, shy (away), pull back;
shiver, tremble, shake, quake, blench


Late Middle English (in the sense 'waste away, come to nothing'): of unknown origin.

Definition of quail in:
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