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wail like a banshee

Scream shrilly, as in Terrified, she wailed like a banshee. In Irish folklore, a banshee is a spirit in the form of a wailing woman whose appearance is an omen that one member of a family will die. The simile dates from the late 1800s.
See also: like, wail


in. to be great. (see also wailing.) Things really started to wail about midnight when the band really got going.

wail on someone

in. to beat someone. (see also whale the tar out of someone.) Who are those two guys wailing on Sam?
See also: wail


and whaling
mod. excellent. (Teens.) What a whaling guitar!
See also: wail
References in classic literature ?
Then breathe thy wail upon the earth's wailing wind, thou band of melancholy music, made up of every sigh that the human heart, unsatisfied, has uttered
Naked and unarmed, as I was, my end would have been both speedy and horrible at the hands of these cruel creatures had I had time to put my resolve into execution, but at the moment of the shriek each member of the herd turned in the direction from which the sound seemed to come, and at the same instant every particular snake-like hair upon their heads rose stiffly perpendicular as if each had been a sentient organism looking or listening for the source or meaning of the wail.
Once together, we stood almost back to back against the great boulder, and thus the creatures were prevented from soaring above us to deliver their deadly blows, and as we were easily their match while they remained upon the ground, we were making great headway in dispatching what remained of them when our attention was again attracted by the shrill wail of the caller above our heads.
Outside the entrance to this rock heap the guide gave a low wail that sounded like "Lee-ow-ah
Instantly De Vac's iron band clapped over the tiny mouth, but not before a single faint wail had reached the ears of the men above.
Right you are," said De Montfort, "but I could have sworn 'twas a child's feeble wail had I not seen the two filthy rodents with mine own eyes.
Now and again, from the far end, a weird wail was raised.
On the beach, Biddy, who had hushed her grief, lifted it again when she heard Jerry's wail.
An eerie wail floated down from above and the apparition, whatever it might have been, was swallowed by the darkness.
As he ran toward the man, Bradley heard above him the same uncanny wail that had set every nerve on edge several nights before, and the dismal flapping of huge wings.
The long-drawn wail of two old boughs rubbing against each other brought out the perspiration in beads on her forehead.
Let us go on," said Benassis; "the wail for the dead has begun, that is the name they give to this part of the funeral rites.
The widow flung herself upon the dead body and clasped it in a tight embrace, as if her kisses and the tears with which she covered it could give it warmth again; during the pause, came the wail of the servants:
Tarzan almost had arrived at something tangible when a distant wail startled him from his preoccupation into sensibility of the present and the real.
The wail was immediately followed by a real scream of terror from the small lungs.