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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.
a group of turtles.
to make or form into bales:
to bale wastepaper for disposal.
evil; harm; misfortune.
woe; misery; sorrow.
bail2 .
bail3 (defs 1–3).
French name of Basel.
the semicircular handle of a kettle or pail.
a hooplike support, as for the canvas cover on a Conestoga wagon.
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.
to dip (water) out of a boat, as with a bucket.
to clear of water by dipping (usually followed by out):
to bail out a boat.
to bail water.
Also, bailer. a bucket, dipper, or other container used for bailing.
bail out,

to make a parachute jump from an airplane.
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.
to give up on or abandon something, as to evade a responsibility:
His partner bailed out before the business failed.

Contemporary Examples

Until last December, she and her husband—who, like bales, is a staff sergeant—also were stationed at Lewis-McChord.
Military Wives Rally Around Wife of Accused Afghanistan Shooter Robert Bales Jesse Ellison March 21, 2012

Still, the news about bales struck particularly close to home for the 27-year-old mother of three.
Military Wives Rally Around Wife of Accused Afghanistan Shooter Robert Bales Jesse Ellison March 21, 2012

To thaw his icy persona, Romney passed out his “famous” family chili and surrounded himself with bales of hay.
Mormons Rock! Walter Kirn June 4, 2011

bales left the board six months later; she declined to be interviewed for this article.
Betty Ford Center’s Messy Path After Former First Lady’s Death Lois Romano November 8, 2011

Almost immediately after enlisting, bales was assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where he remained for most of his career.
Robert Bales, the Army Staff Sgt. Accused of Killing 16 Afghans Matthew DeLuca March 17, 2012

Historical Examples

It is considered that with facilities for irrigation Andalusia could produce 150,000 bales annually.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 7, Slice 5 Various

My lawyer tells me, that every bale and every part of the bales must be equal to the sample.
Bremen Cotton Exchange Andreas Wilhelm Cramer

The impression that Jackson’s breastwork line was constructed of bales of cotton is a mistake.
The Battle of New Orleans Zachary F. Smith

Boxes, bales, parcels and packages of every sort were heaped all about.
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, August 1930 Various

And a score of the sailors were at once sent down to fetch up the bales.
The Lion of Saint Mark G. A. Henty

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
the person or persons so binding themselves; surety
the system permitting release of a person from custody where such security has been taken: he was released on bail
jump bail, (formal) forfeit bail, to fail to appear in court to answer to a charge
stand bail, go bail, to act as surety (for someone)
verb (transitive)
(often foll by out) to release or obtain the release of (a person) from custody, security having been made
(often foll by out) to remove (water) from (a boat)
(cricket) either of two small wooden bars placed across the tops of the stumps to form the wicket

a partition between stalls in a stable or barn, for horses
a portable dairy house built on wheels or skids

(Austral & NZ) a framework in a cowshed used to secure the head of a cow during milking
See bail up
the semicircular handle of a kettle, bucket, etc
a semicircular support for a canopy
a movable bar on a typewriter that holds the paper against the platen
a large bundle, esp of a raw or partially processed material, bound by ropes, wires, etc, for storage or transportation: bale of hay
a large package or carton of goods
(US) 500 pounds of cotton
a group of turtles
(Austral & NZ) See wool bale
to make (hay, etc) into a bale or bales
to put (goods) into packages or cartons
(Austral & NZ) to pack and compress (wool) into wool bales
noun (archaic)
evil; injury
woe; suffering; pain
a variant spelling of bail2
a variant spelling of bail4
the French name for Basle

“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.”

“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 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.

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


To leave; cut out, split: Bruce has bailed from the scene entirely/ Most of my friends had bailed to stay with other relatives

Related Terms

jump bail

[1970s+ college students; fr bail out]
In addition to the idiom beginning with


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