AskDefine | Define quail

Dictionary Definition



1 flesh of quail; suitable for roasting or broiling if young; otherwise must be braised
2 small gallinaceous game birds v : draw back, as with fear or pain; "she flinched when they showed the slaughtering of the calf" [syn: flinch, squinch, funk, cringe, shrink, wince, recoil]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /ˈkweɪl/
  • Rhymes: -eɪl

Etymology 1

From quaille (French: caille).


  1. Any of various small game birds of the family Phasianidae or of the family Odontophoridae.
Derived terms

See also

Etymology 2


  1. To shrink or waver; to become fearful or doubtful.
    • 1949, George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, p25
      His heart quailed before the enormous pyramidal shape.

Extensive Definition

Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds in the pheasant family Phasianidae, or in the family Odontophoridae. New World quails are not closely related but so named for their similar appearance and behaviour. Buttonquails are in a different family (Turnicidae) and are not true quails.


Quails are small, plump terrestrial birds. They are seed eaters but will also take insects and similar small prey. They nest on the ground and are capable of short, rapid bursts of flight. Some species such as the Japanese and Common Quail are migratory and fly for long distances. Some quail are farmed in large numbers. The Japanese Quail (or coturnix quail) is kept mostly to produce eggs.

Species in taxonomic order


External links

quail in Catalan: Guatlla
quail in Bulgarian: Пъдпъдък
quail in German: Wachtel (Art)
quail in Esperanto: Koturno
quail in French: Caille
quail in Hebrew: שליו
quail in Ido: Qualio
quail in Swahili (macrolanguage): Tombo
quail in Malay (macrolanguage): Burung Puyuh
quail in Dutch: Kwartel
quail in Norwegian: Vaktel
quail in Polish: Przepiórka
quail in Portuguese: Codorna
quail in Russian: Перепел
quail in Urdu: بٹیر
quail in Vietnamese: Chim cút
quail in Yiddish: וואכטל
quail in Chinese: 鵪鶉

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Cornish hen, avoid, blanch, blench, blink, boggle, broiler, caille, canard, caneton, capon, chapon, chicken, cower, cringe, crouch, damsel, demur, dindon, dodge, draw back, duck, duckling, evade, fade, faisan, fall back, falter, fight shy of, flinch, fowl, fryer, funk, gal, goose, grouse, guinea hen, hang back, hang off, have qualms, hesitate, hold off, jib, lass, lassie, maid, maiden, make bones about, miss, missy, oie, partridge, pause, pheasant, pigeon, pigeonneau, poulet, pull back, quiff, recoil, reel back, retreat, roaster, scruple, sheer off, shrink, shrink back, shy, shy at, sidestep, skulk, slink, sneak, squab, squinch, start, start aside, start back, stewing chicken, stick at, stickle, strain, swerve, turkey, turn aside, volaille, waver, weasel, weasel out, wild duck, wince
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