verb (used with object)

  1. to cheer, salute, or greet; welcome.
  2. to acclaim; approve enthusiastically: The crowds hailed the conquerors. They hailed the recent advances in medicine.
  3. to call out to in order to stop, attract attention, ask aid, etc.: to hail a cab.

verb (used without object)

  1. to call out in order to greet, attract attention, etc.: The people on land hailed as we passed in the night.


  1. a shout or call to attract attention: They answered the hail of the marooned boaters.
  2. a salutation or greeting: a cheerful hail.
  3. the act of hailing.


  1. (used as a salutation, greeting, or acclamation.)

Verb Phrases

  1. hail from, to have as one’s place of birth or residence: Nearly everyone here hails from the Midwest.

  1. within hail, within range of hearing; audible: The mother kept her children within hail of her voice.


  1. showery precipitation in the form of irregular pellets or balls of ice more than 1/5 (0.2) inch (5 mm) in diameter, falling from a cumulonimbus cloud (distinguished from sleet).
  2. a shower or storm of such precipitation.
  3. a shower of anything: a hail of bullets.

verb (used without object)

  1. to pour down hail (often used impersonally with it as subject): It hailed this afternoon.
  2. to fall or shower as hail: Arrows hailed down on the troops as they advanced.

verb (used with object)

  1. to pour down on as or like hail: The plane hailed leaflets on the city.


  1. small pellets of ice falling from cumulonimbus clouds when there are very strong rising air currents
  2. a shower or storm of such pellets
  3. words, ideas, etc, directed with force and in great quantitya hail of abuse
  4. a collection of objects, esp bullets, spears, etc, directed at someone with violent force


  1. (intr; with it as subject) to be the case that hail is falling
  2. (often with it as subject) to fall or cause to fall as or like hailto hail criticism; bad language hailed about him

verb (mainly tr)

  1. to greet, esp enthusiasticallythe crowd hailed the actress with joy
  2. to acclaim or acknowledgethey hailed him as their hero
  3. to attract the attention of by shouting or gesturingto hail a taxi; to hail a passing ship
  4. (intr foll by from) to be a native (of); originate (in)she hails from India


  1. the act or an instance of hailing
  2. a shout or greeting
  3. distance across which one can attract attention (esp in the phrase within hail)

sentence substitute

  1. poetic an exclamation of greeting

“greetings!” c.1200, from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse heill “health, prosperity, good luck;” and from Old English hals, shortening of wæs hæil “be healthy” (see health and cf. wassail).


“frozen rain,” Old English hægl, hagol (Mercian hegel) “hail, hailstorm,” also the name of the rune for H, from West Germanic *haglaz (cf. Old Frisian heil, Old Saxon, Old High German hagal, Old Norse hagl, German Hagel “hail”), probably from PIE *kaghlo- “pebble” (cf. Greek kakhlex “round pebble”).


“to call from a distance,” 1560s, originally nautical, from hail (interj.). Related: Hailed; hailing. Hail fellow well met is 1580s, from a familiar greeting. Hail Mary (c.1300) is the angelic salutation (Latin ave Maria), cf. Luke i:58, used as a devotional recitation. As a desperation play in U.S. football, attested by 1940. To hail from is 1841, originally nautical. “Hail, Columbia,” the popular patriotic song, was a euphemism for “hell” in American English slang from c.1850-1910.


Old English hagolian, from root of hail (n.). Related: Hailed; hailing. Figurative use from mid-15c.

  1. Precipitation in the form of rounded pellets of ice and hard snow that usually falls during thunderstorms. Hail forms when raindrops are blown up and down within a cloud, passing repeatedly through layers of warm and freezing air and collecting layers of ice until they are too heavy for the winds to keep them from falling.

Pellets of ice that form when updrafts in thunderstorms carry raindrops to high altitudes, where the water freezes and then falls back to Earth. Hailstones as large as baseballs have been recorded. Hail can damage crops and property.

In addition to the idiom beginning with hail

  • hail from

also see:

  • within call (hail)

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