Definitions

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

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

  • If synethesia can't make the cut than my autobiographical ramblings about my life as a mutant banshee from the river styx just won't cut it.

    Topics That Are Not, In Fact, of Inherent Interest, and Do Require Some Effort On Your Part in Order to Constitute a Successful Book

  • The thing that was odd about this scene is that the boyfriend with the shopping cart was gone from view by this time, and when I use the word banshee I'm not indulging in hyperbole.

    The Banshee and the Motorcycle Cop

  • "one wail of a banshee" is going to be in my head all day long.

    Good Will Hunting

  • The cry of a banshee was a terrifying power and Sylvanas was the deadliest, most unique, of banshees.

    WORLD OF WARCRAFT STORMRAGE

  • Mailer's verbal reaction is oddly artificial (although the ear chewing is very real and painful to watch) and his wife seems to be lurking just off camera, and then she suddenly starts screaming like a banshee, which is what sets the kids off.

    WN.com - Articles related to Flu shots raised to $25, but will include H1N1

  • Maybe if you didn't scream and yell like an entitled banshee she wouldn't mirror said banshee behavior.

    ChicagoNow

  • I'm sure any remaining neighbors from that particular block still recall the banshee-like, blood-curdling scream that came from my house as soon as I busted that papier-mâché-and-cardboard zebra's ass.

    Latest stories

  • Although the majority of the levels take on the form of a platformer, I saw one level in which you fly a large creature called a banshee whilst shooting down enemies - very reminiscent of SEGA's Panzer Dragoon.

    VideoGamer.com - All Updates

  • When actress Zoe Saldana, who plays a Na'vi princess named Neytiri, filmed a scene in which she jumps on the back of flying jungle creature called a banshee, another director might have had her simply leap aboard a pommel horse or a polo-player's practice pony.

    NPR Topics: News

  • 106 ‘An omen that sometimes accompanies the banshee is the coach-a- bower (cóiste-bodhar)—an immense black coach, mounted by a coffin, and drawn by headless horses driven by a Dullahan’ a headless phantom (WBY note to FFT 1888; P&I 16).

    Collected Works of W. B. Yeats Volume III Autobiographies

Comments

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  • “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

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

    February 19, 2007

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

    February 7, 2007

  • 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