Definition of squall in English:



  • 1A sudden violent gust of wind or localized storm, especially one bringing rain, snow, or sleet.

    ‘low clouds and squalls of driving rain’
    • ‘Our weather is very mixed today with odd glimpses of sun striking through racing clouds which keep delivering squalls of rain, sleet and hail.’
    • ‘But those same winds can bring squalls and ferocious storms at any time of year, and more especially in autumn, winter and early spring.’
    • ‘The cyclone announced itself in Mackay late on the 20th with rapidly strengthening winds and heavy rain squalls.’
    • ‘Already we are witnessing numerous irregularities and disturbances in the climatic system - heat waves, floods, squalls, storms, cyclones and thunderstorms.’
    • ‘Sudden snow squalls, windy conditions and temperature drops are common.’
    • ‘The economy is like the sea, it comes and goes in broad cycles, but in between it is subject to sudden squalls and unpredictable storms.’
    • ‘A squall of rain rushed through last night, leaving water running in the streets briefly.’
    • ‘Tropical Storm Cindy is approaching hurricane strength and is spreading heavy rain in squalls as it bears down on the north central Gulf Coast.’
    • ‘This area is certainly pretty desolate, particularly on a dour mid-November weekend when low cloud dominated and frequent snow squalls cut visibility to less than 100 metres.’
    • ‘However, the snow soon departed and we were back to the usual rainy squalls and winds.’
    • ‘When the heat is not oppressive, winds blow sand and dust in from the Sahara, blocking out the sun and carrying dreaded diseases, or rain squalls flood the city's open sewers.’
    • ‘The weather was typical for mid-December with a series of chilly fronts and rain squalls moving across the flooded rice fields on almost a daily basis.’
    • ‘It was a day to make your spirit sink as Dundee shivered in the icy squalls of rain that repeatedly doused its pavements and tenements.’
    • ‘After the deluge which forced the abandonment of play before 3pm on Friday, conditions remained difficult with blustery winds being interspersed by violent squalls.’
    • ‘Last night, as strong gusts and heavy squalls hit the east coast, yachts were ripped from their moorings and more than half a million homes and businesses were left without power.’
    • ‘Many sailors would have faced such a violent squall with dread.’
    • ‘I had been coping reasonably well with my transition from Barcelona's baking heat to the chill of a Glasgow summer, taking a perverse pleasure in the occasional sudden rainy squall.’
    • ‘Half an hour later I looked up to find the house was being bashed by another squall of wind, and it was pouring with rain.’
    • ‘Right now we're between squalls but the winds have picked up.’
    • ‘A small rain squall has just passed over two dozen yachts anchored there, and sunlight is beginning to sweep in behind it.’
    gust, storm, blast, flurry, shower, gale, blow, rush, puff, scud
    View synonyms
  • 2A loud cry.

    ‘he emitted a short mournful squall’
    • ‘What with all the screams and squalls and hectoring vocals still ringing in my ears, I can hardly think, breathe, or see straight, much less string a coherent sentence together.’
    howl, howling, wail, wailing, screech, screeching, shriek, shrieking, scream, screaming, bawl, bawling, cry, crying, yell, yelling, yelp, yelping, yowl, yowling, squall, squalling, whine, whining, ululating
    View synonyms


[no object]
  • (of a baby or small child) cry noisily and continuously.

    ‘Sarah was squalling in her crib’
    • ‘Rose entered the house without making a sound, and walked over to her little brother who was squalling loudly.’
    • ‘The infant was lying on a table to the side, squalling.’
    • ‘Sam awoke to the sound of ocean waves crashing against the earth and seagulls squalling over head.’
    • ‘Seagulls, darting by with their snow white feathers, squalled and shrieked as they passed and the salty ocean air rushed into the building with every gust of wind.’
    • ‘She patiently waited in the lobby of the delivery room, but the little girl, Camille, had other ideas, and squalled mercilessly.’
    • ‘The third floor of Amahi General Hospital was noisy with nurses and orderlies rushing around and squalling babies crying from inside hospital rooms.’
    • ‘From the instant I held that small, balding, sleepy-eyed, squalling bundle my life altered.’
    • ‘As a woman without property or title, she could either marry and spend her life caring for squalling brats or hire herself out to work for richer families who might mistreat and beat her.’
    • ‘After a few tests we were moved down the hall, past a room full of squalling babies, into our own apartment.’
    • ‘The place was staffed mainly by female volunteers, some of whom had brought their squalling babies.’
    • ‘Writing as a father of three adult kids, I can think of nothing worse that sentencing the average man to six seconds of trying to cope with a squalling child!’
    howl, weep, cry, sob, moan, groan, keen, lament, yowl, blubber, snivel, whimper, whine, squall, bawl, shriek, scream, yelp, caterwaul, waul
    View synonyms


Mid 17th century probably an alteration of squeal, influenced by bawl.