1. a large bundle or package prepared for shipping, storage, or sale, especially one tightly compressed and secured by wires, hoops, cords, or the like, and sometimes having a wrapping or covering: a bale of cotton; a bale of hay.
  2. a group of turtles.

verb (used with object), baled, bal·ing.

  1. to make or form into bales: to bale wastepaper for disposal.

noun Archaic.

  1. evil; harm; misfortune.
  2. woe; misery; sorrow.


  1. bail2.

verb (used with or without object), baled, bal·ing.

  1. bail3(defs 1–3).


  1. French name of Basel.


  1. the semicircular handle of a kettle or pail.
  2. a hooplike support, as for the canvas cover on a Conestoga wagon.
  3. a metal band or bar equipped with rollers for holding a sheet or sheets of paper against the platen of a printing press, typewriter, etc.

verb (used with object)

  1. to dip (water) out of a boat, as with a bucket.
  2. to clear of water by dipping (usually followed by out): to bail out a boat.

verb (used without object)

  1. to bail water.


  1. Also bail·er. a bucket, dipper, or other container used for bailing.

Verb Phrases

  1. bail out,
    1. to make a parachute jump from an airplane.
    2. to relieve or assist (a person, company, etc.) in an emergency situation, especially a financial crisis: The corporation bailed out its failing subsidiary through a series of refinancing operations.
    3. to give up on or abandon something, as to evade a responsibility: His partner bailed out before the business failed.


  1. a large bundle, esp of a raw or partially processed material, bound by ropes, wires, etc, for storage or transportationbale of hay
  2. a large package or carton of goods
  3. US 500 pounds of cotton
  4. a group of turtles
  5. Australian and NZ See wool bale


  1. to make (hay, etc) into a bale or bales
  2. to put (goods) into packages or cartons
  3. Australian and NZ to pack and compress (wool) into wool bales

noun archaic

  1. evil; injury
  2. woe; suffering; pain


  1. a variant spelling of bail 2


  1. a variant spelling of bail 4


  1. the French name for Basle


  1. a sum of money by which a person is bound to take responsibility for the appearance in court of another person or himself or herself, forfeited if the person fails to appear
  2. the person or persons so binding themselves; surety
  3. the system permitting release of a person from custody where such security has been takenhe was released on bail
  4. jump bail or formal forfeit bail to fail to appear in court to answer to a charge
  5. stand bail or go bail to act as surety (for someone)

verb (tr)

  1. (often foll by out) to release or obtain the release of (a person) from custody, security having been made


  1. (often foll by out) to remove (water) from (a boat)


  1. cricket either of two small wooden bars placed across the tops of the stumps to form the wicket
  2. agriculture
    1. a partition between stalls in a stable or barn, for horses
    2. a portable dairy house built on wheels or skids
  3. Australian and NZ a framework in a cowshed used to secure the head of a cow during milking


  1. See bail up


  1. the semicircular handle of a kettle, bucket, etc
  2. a semicircular support for a canopy
  3. a movable bar on a typewriter that holds the paper against the platen

“bond money,” late 15c., a sense that apparently developed from that of “temporary release from jail” (into the custody of another, who gives security), recorded from early 15c. That evolved from earlier meaning “captivity, custody” (early 14c.). From Old French baillier “to control, to guard, deliver” (12c.), from Latin bajulare “to bear a burden,” from bajulus “porter,” of unknown origin. In late 18c. criminal slang, to give leg bail meant “to run away.”


“to dip water out of,” 1610s, from baile (n.) “small wooden bucket” (mid-14c.), from nautical Old French baille “bucket, pail,” from Medieval Latin *bajula (aquae), literally “porter of water,” from Latin bajulare “to bear a burden” (see bail (n.1)). To bail out “leave suddenly” (intransitive) is recorded from 1930, originally of airplane pilots. Related: Bailed; bailing.


“large bundle or package,” early 14c., from Old French bale “rolled-up bundle,” from a Germanic source (cf. Old High German balla “ball”), from Proto-Germanic *ball-, from PIE *bhel- (2) “to blow, swell” (see bole).


“horizontal piece of wood in a cricket wicket,” c.1742, originally “any cross bar” (1570s), probably identical with Middle French bail “horizontal piece of wood affixed on two stakes,” and with English bail “palisade wall, outer wall of a castle” (see bailey).


“to procure someone’s release from prison” (by posting bail), 1580s, from bail (n.1); usually with out. Related: Bailed; bailing.

In addition to the idiom beginning with bail

  • bail out

also see:

  • make bail
  • out on bail
  • skip bail
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