from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A female spirit in Gaelic folklore believed to presage, by wailing, a death in a family.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. In Irish folklore, a female spirit, usually taking the form of a woman whose mournful wailing warns of an impending death. Originally a fairy woman singing a caoineadh (lament) for recently-deceased members of the O’Grady, the O’Neill, the O’Brien, the O’Connor, and the Kavanagh families, translations into English made a distinction between the banshee and other fairy folk that the original language and original stories do not seem to have, and thus the current image of the banshee.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A supernatural being supposed to warn a family of the approaching death of one of its members, by wailing or singing in a mournful voice, as under the windows of the house.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A type of female fairy believed in Ireland and some parts of Scotland to attach herself to a particular house, and to foretell by each appearance the death of one of the family. Also benshie, benshi.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (Irish folklore) a female spirit who wails to warn of impending death
Irish Gaelic bean sídhe, woman of the fairies, banshee : bean, woman (from Old Irish ben; see gwen- in Indo-European roots) + sídhe, fairy (from Old Irish síde, genitive of síd, fairy mound; see sed- in Indo-European roots).(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Irish bean sí, from Old Irish ben síde ("woman of the fairy mound"). The term banshee entered English in 1771. (Wiktionary)