Definition of banshee in English:



  • (in Irish legend) a female spirit whose wailing warns of an impending death in a house.

    ‘the little girl dropped her ice cream and began to howl like a banshee’
    [as modifier] ‘a horrible banshee wail’
    • ‘The good folk of Ireland quail in their beds when they hear the banshee wail of the Irish Postie.’
    • ‘I croaked, woken from my recurrent dream of loading reams of information onto the computer, by a banshee wail that went on and on, somewhere in the very near vicinity.’
    • ‘They just adore tiptoeing around and shaking their heads when the broads shatter glass with their banshee wails.’
    • ‘He heard the banshee wail of an incoming rocket and so instinctively he dove to the ground.’
    • ‘Whipping the crowd into a fury from the first note, everyone was apparently quite pleased to hear the change, bounding around the Opera House like possessed banshees.’
    • ‘Amaiya opened her mouth to reply, but her hands flew to her ears as a banshee wail hammered the sky.’
    • ‘She also has another name - the Queen of Scream, apparently accompanying every show with a banshee wail of expelled breath.’
    • ‘Harry and Dolly have been in and out like Swiss cuckoos, demanding I open the door the instant the rain has stopped and the wind dropped, then wailing like banshees when things got bad again.’
    • ‘Aurella's voice suddenly rose into a banshee's wail of anger.’
    • ‘So we spent the best part of 2 hours running around the house screaming like crazed banshees, dodging (in my case not very successfully) my deranged older brother.’
    • ‘For example, baddies can only ever enter stage left and ‘ethereals’ (ghosts, banshees and spirits) must never be touched by the ‘live’ actors.’
    • ‘It was the wail of a thousand banshees, mixed with the mournful cries of wolves.’
    • ‘Suspense builds as the siren wails like a crippled banshee.’
    • ‘The eerie wind began to sound like the wail of a banshee, the creaks and groans of the castle began to seem like footsteps stalking toward her.’
    • ‘The wail of the banshees had been growing in intensity for some time.’
    • ‘It carried on wailing like a banshee for a good 5 minutes before I decided I couldn't take it anymore.’
    • ‘Was it you who was up in the night wailing like a banshee?’
    • ‘As he moved with his Subartans into the open Frost could sense the spirits of the banshees all around them, closer now, gathering perhaps, he thought, to listen.’
    • ‘As guitars wail out of control and gospel choruses wail like baritone banshees, it becomes obvious that screwing and chopping has only begun to touch upon its potential.’
    • ‘An ambulance raced into the picture, sirens wailing like banshees.’


Late 17th century: from Irish bean sídhe, from Old Irish ben síde woman of the fairies.