Definitions

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

  • noun A female spirit in Gaelic folklore believed to presage, by wailing, a death in a family.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Celtic Folklore) 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 Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun 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 WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun (Irish folklore) a female spirit who wails to warn of impending death

Etymologies

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

[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).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Irish bean , from Old Irish ben síde ("woman of the fairy mound"). The term banshee entered English in 1771.

Examples

Comments

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  • A.K.A. "ban sidh" > Gaelic. A supernatural being supposed by the peasantry of Ireland and the Scottish Highlands to wail under the windows of a house where one of the inmates is about to die.

    Usage: "You remember that foul evening when you heard the banshees howl..." --"The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn," c. 1985 Shane Macgowan

    February 7, 2007

  • I remember these from "Darby O'Gill and the Little People", a classic movie.

    February 7, 2007

  • from "bean sidhe" or "ban sidhe", a fairy woman.

    February 19, 2007

  • “The McDonnell F2H Banshee was a military carrier-based jet fighter aircraft, used by the United States Navy from 1948 to 1959 and by the Royal Canadian Navy from 1955 until 1962.�? More on Wikipedia.

    December 30, 2008