Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Security, usually a sum of money, exchanged for the release of an arrested person as a guarantee of that person's appearance for trial.
  • noun Release from imprisonment provided by the payment of such money.
  • noun A person who provides this security.
  • transitive verb To secure the release of by providing security.
  • transitive verb To release (a person) for whom security has been paid.
  • transitive verb Informal To extricate from a difficult situation.
  • idiom (jump/skip) To fail to appear in court and so forfeit one's bail.
  • idiom (make bail) To secure enough money or property to pay the amount of one's bail.
  • intransitive verb To remove (water) from a boat by repeatedly filling a container and emptying it over the side.
  • intransitive verb To empty (a boat) of water by bailing.
  • intransitive verb To empty a boat of water by bailing.
  • intransitive verb To parachute from an aircraft; eject. Often used with out.
  • intransitive verb To abandon a project or enterprise. Often used with out.
  • noun A container used for emptying water from a boat.
  • noun The arched hooplike handle of a container, such as a pail.
  • noun An arch or hoop, such as one of those used to support the top of a covered wagon.
  • noun A hinged bar on a typewriter that holds the paper against the platen.
  • noun The pivoting U-shaped part of a fishing reel that guides the line onto the spool during rewinding.
  • noun A small loop, usually of metal, attached to a pendant to enable it to be strung on a necklace or bracelet.
  • noun Chiefly British A pole or bar used to confine or separate animals.
  • noun Sports One of the two crossbars that form the top of a wicket used in the game of cricket.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A hoop or ring; a piece of wood, metal, or other material bent into the form of a circle or half-circle, as a hoop for supporting the tilt of a boat, the cover of a wagon or cradle, etc. Specifically The hoop forming the handle of a kettle or bucket.
  • noun One of the iron yokes which serve to suspend a lifecar from the hawser on which it runs.
  • noun A stout iron yoke placed over heavy guns and fitting closely over the ends of the trunnions, to which it is attached by pins in the axis of the trunnions: used to raise the gun by means of the gin.
  • noun An arched support of a millstone.
  • noun A wooden canopy formed of bows.
  • To provide with a bail; hoop.
  • In law: To deliver, as goods, without transference of ownership, on an agreement, expressed or implied, that they shall be returned or accounted for. See bailment.
  • To set free, deliver, or liberate from arrest and imprisonment, upon security given that the person bailed shall appear and answer in court or satisfy the judgment given: applied to the action of the magistrate or the surety.
  • Figuratively, to release; liberate.
  • To be security for; secure; protect.
  • noun Power; custody; jurisdiction.
  • noun The keeping of a person in nominal custody on security that he shall appear in court at a specified time.
  • noun Security given to obtain the release of a prisoner from custody, pending final decision in the action against him.
  • noun Figuratively, security; guaranty.
  • noun Liberation on bail: as, to grant bail.
  • noun The person or persons who provide bail, and thus obtain the temporary release of a prisoner.
  • noun [Bail, being an abstract noun applicable to persons only by ellipsis, is not used in the plural.]
  • noun To vouch (for a thing): as, I'll go bail for that.
  • noun A bar; a cross-bar.
  • noun In cricket, one of the two little bars or sticks, about 4 inches long, which are laid on the tops of the stumps, one end resting in the groove of one stump, and the other in that of the next.
  • noun A bar or pole to separate horses in a stable.
  • noun A framework for securing the head of a cow while she is being milked.
  • noun [The earliest use in E.] Milit.: plural The outer wall or line of defenses, originally often made of stakes; barriers; palisades. See palisade. Hence— The space inclosed by the outer wall; the outer court of a castle or a fortified post: in this sense usually called bailey. See bailey.
  • noun A certain limit in a forest.
  • To bar in; confine.
  • To provide with a bail.
  • noun A bucket; a pail; especially, a bucket or other small vessel used to dip water out of a boat.
  • etc. Obsolete and less proper spelling of bale, etc.
  • To remove (water), or free (a boat, etc.) from water, with a bail, bucket, basin, or other small vessel: usually with out.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, custody, from Old French, from baillier, to take charge of, from Latin bāiulāre, to carry a load, from bāiulus, carrier of a burden.]

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

[From Middle English baille, bucket, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *bāiula, water container, from Latin bāiulāre, to carry a load.]

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

[Middle English beil, perhaps from Old English *bēgel or of Scandinavian origin; see bheug- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Old French dialectal, probably from Latin baculum, stick; see bacillus.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

by shortening from bail out, which comes from etymology 1

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English beyl, from Old Norse beygla ("a bend, ring or hoop")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French baillier.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the Old French verb bailler ("to deliver or hand over") and noun bail ("lease"), from Latin bāiulāre, present active infinitive of bāiulō ("carry or bear").

Examples

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Contranymic in the sense: bail out (remove yourself from something, say, an airplane) vs. remove something (water) from yourself (in the boat).

    February 23, 2007

  • Handle of a kettle or pail. You could make a blackberry bucket by attacting a wire bail to a three pound coffee can. But these days you probably wouldn't.

    July 21, 2007

  • Used in South Park as a shortened form of "Let's get the hell out of here", or "Let's give up, this crap is stupid". Typically used as both a question and the affirmative response.

    July 21, 2007

  • Bail? Bail!

    Nice

    July 21, 2007

  • Cricket jargon - a small piece of wood that forms part of the wicket, with two bails resting atop the stumps.

    November 29, 2007

  • “In a group, you follow a guide with two electric lanterns, suspended from bails like railroad lanterns.”

    Season on the Chalk by John McPhee, in Silk Parachute, p 27

    I wasn't familiar with the handle-of-a-kettle-or-a-pail-or-a-lantern sense of this word until now.

    June 20, 2010

  • It's funny that there's a bail on the bucket you might use to bail out a boat. (Funny in that way that will make me try to make some ridiculous joke about "bucket-ing" out a boat sometime.)

    April 3, 2012

  • fianza

    September 17, 2013