from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mark raised on the skin, as by a whip; a weal or welt.
  • n. One of the parallel ribs or ridges in the surface of a fabric such as corduroy.
  • n. The texture or weave of such a fabric: a wide wale.
  • n. Nautical A gunwale.
  • n. Nautical One of the heavy planks or strakes extending along the sides of a wooden ship.
  • transitive v. To raise marks on (the skin), as by whipping.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A ridge or low barrier.
  • n. A raised rib in knit goods or fabric, especially corduroy. (As opposed to course)
  • n. The texture of a piece of fabric.
  • n. A horizontal ridge or ledge on the outside planking of a wooden ship. (See gunwale, chainwale)
  • n. A horizontal timber used for supporting or retaining earth.
  • n. A ridge on the outside of a horse collar.
  • n. A ridge or streak produced on skin by a cane or whip.
  • v. To strike the skin in such a way as to produce a wale.
  • v. To give a surface a texture of wales.
  • n. Something selected as being the best, preference; choice.
  • v. to choose, select.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A streak or mark made on the skin by a rod or whip; a stripe; a wheal. See Wheal.
  • n. A ridge or streak rising above the surface, as of cloth; hence, the texture of cloth.
  • n. A timber bolted to a row of piles to secure them together and in position.
  • n.
  • n. Certain sets or strakes of the outside planking of a vessel
  • n. A wale knot, or wall knot.
  • transitive v. To mark with wales, or stripes.
  • transitive v. To choose; to select; specifically (Mining), to pick out the refuse of (coal) by hand, in order to clean it.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Specifically, to sort or pick (coal) by hand at the mine or breaker.
  • To mark with wales or stripes.
  • To weave or make the web of, as a gabion, with more than two rods at a time.
  • To seek; choose; select; court; woo.
  • Choice; good; excellent.
  • n. In wood ship-building, one of the strakes of heavy outside planking above the turn of the bilge. In wooden war-ships, the main wales extended from the lower gun-port sills to the bottom plank, the middle wales between the main-deck ports and the gun-deck ports, and the channel wales, sometimes called strings, between the spar- and main-deck ports. See bend, 3 .
  • n. A rod.
  • n. A ridge or plank along the edge of a ship. Compare gunwale.
  • n. A timber bolted to a row of piles to secure them together and in position; a wale-piece.
  • n. A wale-knot.
  • n. A ridge in cloth, formed by a thread or a group of threads; hence, a stripe or strain implying quality.
  • n. A streak or stripe produced on the skin by the stroke of a rod or whip.
  • n. A tumor, or large swelling.
  • n. A picking or choosing; the choice; the pick or pink of anything; the best.
  • n. An obsolete form of weal.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. thick plank forming a ridge along the side of a wooden ship
  • n. a raised mark on the skin (as produced by the blow of a whip); characteristic of many allergic reactions


Middle English, from Old English, variant of walu; see wel-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Old English walu ("a stripe or ridge"). Akin to Low German wāle; Old Norse vala ("knuckle"). (Wiktionary)
Middle English wal, wale, from Old Norse val ("choice"), from Proto-Germanic *walan, *walō (“desire, choice”), from Proto-Indo-European *(e)welə- (“to choose, wish”). Akin to Old Norse velja ("to choose"), Old High German wala "choice" (German wählen "to choose"), Old English willan ("to want"). More at will. (Wiktionary)


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