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.