Humanities › English Bail vs Bale: How to Choose the Right Word Homophones With Two Completely Different Meanings Share Flipboard Email Print If you're not talking about a large bundle (like this bale of hay), the spelling you want is probably b-a-i-l. Diego Eidelman/EyeEm/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated March 05, 2019 Bail and bale are homophones: the words sound the same but have different meanings. Definitions of Bail and Bale The noun bail refers to money used to arrange the temporary release of a person awaiting a court trial. As a verb, bail means to set free an accused person through payment of bail, or to help out an individual or organization that's having financial problems. The verb bail also means to scoop water out of a boat or to run away from a difficult situation. The noun bale refers to a large bundle, usually one that has been tightly wrapped and bound. As a verb, bale means to press (something) together and wrap it into a tight bundle. Examples of Usage Old Jake walked five miles to the courthouse to post bail for his grandson."The mystery writer Dashiell Hammett refused to turn over to the Justice Department a list of the people who had put up bail for [Gus] Hall—and went to jail himself." (Victor Navasky, "My Hunt for Moscow Gold." The New York Times, October 21, 2000)Against the opposition of most Americans, the president decided to bail out his friends on Wall Street.The pilot asked the crew members whether they wanted to bail out or ride the plane down into the cornfield.Haley lifted a bale of hay and placed it in the corner with the others. Idiom Alerts Bail (Someone) out: The expression to bail (somebody) out means to rescue a person from a difficult situation. "I had no money to pay the bills much less for shopping. . . . Eventually my parents would have to be told, but I couldn't face my mother's knowing scorn, and I wasn't about to let my father bail me out and potentially go down the drain with me." (Linda Francis Lee, The Devil in the Junior League. St. Martin's Press, 2006) Bail on (Someone): The expression to bail on (someone or something) means to break off a relationship or abandon a person or thing. "Robert can barely read or write, one of many reasons he bailed on school like his daddy bailed on him." (Patrick Jones, Chasing Tail Lights. Walker and Company, 2007) Practice Questions Throughout the storm, the fishermen _____ frantically, cast out hooks, give their lines a jerk, and haul in more fish from the sea.The judge decided that the man's _____ was excessive and reduced it by half.One _____ of straw will cover an average of 900 square feet.The detective could have stayed with the department once he'd recovered from his gunshot wounds, but he chose to _____. Answers to Practice Exercises Throughout the storm, the fishermen bail frantically, cast out hooks, give their lines a jerk, and haul in more fish from the sea.The judge decided that the man's bail was excessive and reduced it by half.One bale of straw will cover an average of 900 square feet.The detective could have stayed with the department once he'd recovered from his gunshot wounds, but he chose to bail.