BALE. (1) (A word common to Teutonic languages, in O. Eng. balu, cf. Icelandic böl), evil, suffering, a word obsolete except in poetry, and more common in the adjectival form "baleful." In early alliterative poetry it is especially used antithetically with "bliss." (2) (O. Eng. bael, a blazing fire, a funeral pyre), a bonfire, a northern English use more common in the tautological "bale-fire," with sometimes a confused reference from (1) to evil. (3) (A word of doubtful origin, possibly connected with "ball "), a bundle of merchandise, especially of cotton, wool or hay, packed with a cover, or fastened with bands of metal, etc. for transportation; the weight and capacity varies with the goods. (4) (Properly "bail," from Fr. baille, possibly connected with Lat. bacula, a tub), to empty water out of a boat by means of a bail or bucket.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)