before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1
Middle English, borrowed from Old Norse karl "man, commoner" — more at churl
Old Norse karl is already reflected in the late Old English compounds hūscarl "member of a king's bodyguard" (Old Norse húskarl), carlmann "male, man" (Old Norse karlmaðr).
Time Traveler for carl
See more words from the same century
From the Editors at Merriam-Webster
11 Words for Miserly People
We won't be stingy with them
Cite this Entry
“Carl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/carl. Accessed 6 Dec. 2021.
See Definitions and Examples »
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Difficult Spelling Words Quiz
Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?
Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!
Top 10 Latin Phrases
Don't argue with the dictionary
This is usage
A simple trick to keep them separate
How 'literally' can mean "figuratively"
How to use a word that (literally) drives some pe...
The awkward case of 'his or her'
How many do you know?
Take the quiz