Etymology
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wale (n.)

Old English walu "ridge, bank" of earth or stone, later "ridge made on flesh by a lash" (related to weal (n.2)); from Proto-Germanic *walu- (source also of Low German wale "weal," Old Frisian walu "rod," Old Norse völr "round piece of wood," Gothic walus "a staff, stick," Dutch wortel, German wurzel "root"), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve." The common notion perhaps is "raised line." Used in reference to the ridges of textile fabric from 1580s. Wales "horizontal planks which extend along a ship's sides" is attested from late 13c.

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weal (n.2)

"raised mark on skin," 1821, alteration of wale (q.v.).

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whale (v.2)

"beat, whip severely," 1790, possibly a variant of wale (v.) "to mark with 'wales' or stripes" (early 15c.), from wale (n.). Related: Whaled; whaling.

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wheal (n.)

"mark made on the skin by a whip," 1808, perhaps an alteration of wale, possibly by confusion with weal "welt," and obsolete wheal "pimple, pustule" (mid-15c.), from Old English verb hwelian "to form pus, bring to a head."

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gunwale (n.)

"uppermost edge of a ship's side," mid-15c., gonne walle, from gun (n.) + wale "plank" (see wale). Originally a platform on the deck of a ship to support the mounted guns.

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*wel- (3)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to turn, revolve," with derivatives referring to curved, enclosing objects.

It forms all or part of: archivolt; circumvolve; convoluted; convolution; devolve; elytra; evolution; evolve; Helicon; helicopter; helix; helminth; lorimer; ileus; involve; revolt; revolution; revolve; valve; vault (v.1) "jump or leap over;" vault (n.1) "arched roof or ceiling;" volte-face; voluble; volume; voluminous; volute; volvox; volvulus; vulva; wale; walk; wallet; wallow; waltz; well (v.) "to spring, rise, gush;" welter; whelk; willow.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit valate "turns round," ulvam "womb, vulva;" Lithuanian valtis "twine, net," vilnis "wave," apvalus "round;" Old Church Slavonic valiti "roll, welter," vlŭna "wave;" Greek eluein "to roll round, wind, enwrap," eilein "twist, turn, squeeze; revolve, rotate," helix "spiral object;" Latin volvere "to turn, twist;" Gothic walwjan "to roll;" Old English wealwian "roll," weoloc "whelk, spiral-shelled mollusk;" Old High German walzan "to roll, waltz;" Old Irish fulumain "rolling;" Welsh olwyn "wheel."

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