Smaller than the chicken and not as well known as the pigeon, quail is like the often-overlooked middle child of the ground-dwelling bird family. Quail can also mean to cringe in fear or pain. So if you are a quail, you might quail at the thought of quail-hunting season.

Quail is a broad, catchall word; it can refer to any one of many small domestic game birds. So if you’re bragging about the quail you shot on a hunting trip to your uptight, bird-obsessed pals, they might demand to know if it was the Bobwhite quail, the Valley quail or the Scaled quail, to name just a few. If you use this word as a verb, it means to draw back in fear or pain. You might quail in fear at the sight of a playground bully. A good way to remember this verb meaning is to think of how the word chicken is also associated with fear.

Definitions of quail
  1. noun
    small gallinaceous game birds
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    show 5 types...
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    bobwhite, bobwhite quail, partridge
    a popular North American game bird; named for its call
    Old World quail
    small game bird with a rounded body and small tail
    California quail, Lofortyx californicus
    plump chunky bird of coastal California and Oregon
    Colinus virginianus, northern bobwhite
    a favorite game bird of eastern and central United States
    Coturnix communis, Coturnix coturnix, migratory quail
    the typical Old World quail
    type of:
    a kind of game bird in the family Phasianidae
  2. noun
    flesh of quail; suitable for roasting or broiling if young; otherwise must be braised
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    type of:
    flesh of any of a number of wild game birds suitable for food
  3. verb
    draw back, as with fear or pain
    synonyms: cringe, flinch, funk, recoil, shrink, squinch, wince
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    retract, shrink back
    pull away from a source of disgust or fear
    type of:
    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion
Word Family

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