Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Date: 1400-1500
Origin: quail 'to curdle' (15-19 centuries), from Latin coagulare; COAGULATE

quail

2 verb
     
quail2 [intransitive]
literary to be afraid and show it by shaking a little bit or moving back slightly [= shrink]
quail at
She quailed visibly at the sight of the prison walls.

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