Middle English Dictionary Entry

wei-lā̆-wei interj.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

1.
An exclamation expressive of grief, dismay, or regret: (a) alas, woe; oh; ~ and alas, alas and ~;—freq. used in direct speech; crien (seien, etc.) ~; (b) with hou or that clause supplying the ground of complaint: alas (how sth. is, that sth. is the case, etc.); (c) in generalizing phrases: singen (seien) ~, to lament, express sorrow or regret [some quots. difficult to distinguish from simple direct speech];—sometimes with that clause expressing the ground for lamentation or complaint; (d) in expressions of censure or condemnation, with noun supplying the object of complaint: woe to (sb. or sth.), accursed be (sb. or sth.); ~ the dai (stounde, while), cursed be the day or time (when sth. happened); also, cursed be the hour (time); seien ~, to curse (one’s birth, the mother who bore one).
2.
In comb. with ful or so: (a) ful (so) ~, alas; also in direct speech: seien so ~; (b) with that clause expressing the ground of complaint: so ~, alas (that one did sth.); (c) in generalizing phrase: singen ful ~, to lament; (d) in expressions of complaint or condemnation, with noun supplying the object of complaint: so ~ the stounde (tide, while), accursed be the hour, alas for the time.
3.
In comb. or cpd. with a interj., hei interj., or o interj.: (a) a (hei, o) ~, alas;—also with pron. in direct address; alas and a ~; (b) with clause, usu. with hou (that), expressing the grounds of distress: a (o) ~, alas (that sb. did sth., how sth. is, etc.); also, in generalizing phrase: seien a ~ that, to express regret that (sth. occurred); (c) with noun supplying the ground of the complaint: a ~, alas for or because of (sth.).