To wail is to let loose a long loud cry. If you're feeling truly miserable, take a deep breath and wail as loudly as possible.

When it comes to expressing unhappiness, wailing lies at the extreme end of the spectrum. So, it's best to save this response for life's most unpleasant moments — unless you're a jazz musician. In jazz terminology, wailing on one's instrument is actually a good thing. What's the connection between an eardrum-shattering expression of misery and a hot jam session? The answer to that question may depend on your personal musical preferences.

Definitions of wail

n a cry of sorrow and grief

lament, lamentation, plaint
Type of:
(formerly) a loud cry (or repeated cries) of pain or rage or sorrow

v emit long loud cries

wail in self-pity”
howl, roar, ululate, yaup, yawl
squall, waul, wawl
make high-pitched, whiney noises
Type of:
call, cry, holler, hollo, scream, shout, shout out, squall, yell
utter a sudden loud cry

v cry weakly or softly

“she wailed with pain”
mewl, pule, whimper
Type of:
cry, weep
shed tears because of sadness, rage, or pain

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