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verb (1)

ˈbər(-ə)l How to pronounce birl (audio)
 Scotland also  ˈbir(-ə)l
birled; birling; birls

intransitive verb

chiefly Scotland


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verb (2)

birled; birling; birls

transitive verb

: spin
: to cause (a floating log) to rotate by treading

intransitive verb

: to progress by whirling
birler noun

Examples of birl in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
There was sea salt in the air, and sleepless seagulls were birling in the darkness overhead. Douglas Stuart, The New Yorker, 6 Jan. 2020 Another, unable to reach dry land, dug his spiked boots into a slippery timber and birled downriver. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 16 Feb. 2019 In some parts of the United States, birling contests are annual events. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 16 Feb. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'birl.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb (1)

Middle English, from Old English byrelian; probably akin to Old English beran to carry — more at bear

Verb (2)

perhaps imitative

First Known Use

Verb (1)

circa 1585, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

1724, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of birl was circa 1585

Dictionary Entries Near birl

Cite this Entry

“Birl.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

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