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to cause pain, uneasiness, or trouble to.
to be unwell; feel pain; be ill:
He’s been ailing for some time.
Contemporary Examples

It would be impossible to cure all that ailed the GOP in the course of a single calendar year.
GOP Report Turns One—Is it Worth Celebrating? Kristen Soltis Anderson March 17, 2014

Historical Examples

I petted him and patted him; I stroked his ears and I rubbed his nose; and then I asked him point blank what ailed him.
On a Donkey’s Hurricane Deck R. Pitcher Woodward

And I sighed: not knowing what ailed me, but yet uneasy and most melancholy.
The Cruise of the Shining Light Norman Duncan

All the knights gathered round him to ask what ailed the Duke.
Cameos from English History, from Rollo to Edward II Charlotte Mary Yonge

His forehead was scratched deeply, but nothing else ailed him.
Harper’s Young People, September 21, 1880 Various

There was a man got married, and he began to pine away, and after a few weeks the mother asked him what ailed him.
Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, First Series Lady Gregory

The veins of her body were full of caprice, that’s what ailed her, and for that is there any remede?
Gilian The Dreamer Neil Munro

The Doctor asked of them what ailed them, and was then informed, for the first time, of the evil tidings that awaited him.
How I Found Livingstone Henry M. Stanley

What ailed you, man, but to have been a lawyer as weel as other folk?
St. Ronan’s Well Sir Walter Scott

One glance showed me what ailed him when I awoke this morning.
A Girl in Ten Thousand L. T. Meade

(transitive) to trouble; afflict
(intransitive) to feel unwell

c.1300, from Old English eglan “to trouble, plague, afflict,” from Proto-Germanic *azljaz (cf. Old English egle “hideous, loathsome, troublesome, painful;” Gothic agls “shameful, disgraceful,” agliþa “distress, affliction, hardship,” us-agljan “to oppress, afflict”), from PIE *agh-lo-, suffixed form of root *agh- “to be depressed, be afraid.” Related: Ailed; ailing; ails.

It is remarkable, that this word is never used but with some indefinite term, or the word no thing; as What ails him? … Thus we never say, a fever ails him. [Johnson]


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