The verb "ail" primarily means to cause physical or mental discomfort or illness. It refers to feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms of illness or distress. Generally, when someone ails, they are not in optimal health and may be affected by a specific ailment or condition. The term can be used to describe a range of physical or psychological discomforts, from minor and temporary ailments to more severe and chronic illnesses.
In a medical context, "ail" can also denote the specific symptoms or conditions of a particular illness. It is frequently used to express a general state of unease or malaise. The term can encompass a wide variety of physical symptoms like fatigue, pain, nausea, or fever, as well as psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression.
Furthermore, "ail" can be used more figuratively to describe non-physical troubles or problems. For instance, one might say that a failing economy ails a country, suggesting that it is causing significant distress or hardship.
Overall, "ail" encompasses both physical and mental discomforts, describing the state of being unwell or afflicted with an illness or problem. The term is versatile and commonly employed to describe a range of ailments, from mild to severe, and can pertain to various aspects of health and well-being.
The word "ail" comes from the Old English term "eglian" which means "to afflict with pain". It is derived from the Proto-Germanic word "aglōną" which meant "to afflict" or "to trouble". This ultimately traces back to the Proto-Indo-European root "*ag-", meaning "to drive" or "to move". The term "ail" has been used to refer to various forms of physical or mental distress throughout its history.