churl

noun
\ ˈchər(-ə)l How to pronounce churl (audio) \

Definition of churl

1 : ceorl
2 : a medieval peasant
4a : a rude ill-bred person
b : a stingy morose person

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of churl in a Sentence

as far as he was concerned, anyone from outside the city was a backwater churl don't bother asking for donations at that house—the churl who lives there believes that charity begins and ends at home
Recent Examples on the Web Only a churl would lament the existence of these testaments to the out-of-nowhere potential of a great pop hit. Los Angeles Times, 1 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'churl.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of churl

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for churl

Middle English cherl "non-noble person (whether free or bound), ill-bred person, boor, fellow," going back to Old English ceorl "male person, man, married man, countryman, member of the lowest class of freemen," going back to Germanic *kerla- "man, freeman" (whence also Old Frisian tzerl, tzirl, kerl "man, servant," Middle Dutch kerel, kerl "freeman below the rank of knight"), with a by-form *karla- (whence Old High German karl, charel "man, husband," Old Norse karl "man, commoner, old man"), of uncertain origin

Note: Compared with Tocharian B śrāy "adult male (?)" (the stem śrān- is apparently secondary; see D. Adams, A Dictionary of Tocharian B, Rodopi, 2013, p. 705) and further to Indo-European *ǵerh2- "become old, ripen" (whence Greek gérōn "old man," Sanskrit jarant-, járan "old, decayed"—see geriatric entry 1). Guus Kroonen (Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic, Brill, 2013) reconstructs a proto-paradigm for the Germanic noun with a suffixal -l- and root ablaut e-ø-o; however, even if parallels for such a formation exist, an etymon "old man, elder" is a questionable starting point for the attested senses "man, low-ranking freeman," etc. The Medieval Latin name Carolus, associated with Charles Martel and later Carolingian rulers, has traditionally been identified with Germanic *karla-, though some see it as a Latinization of a Germanic name *hari-ol- (but cf. Cearl, name of an early Mercian king mentioned by Bede).

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about churl

Time Traveler for churl

Time Traveler

The first known use of churl was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for churl

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Churl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/churl. Accessed 15 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on churl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for churl

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about churl

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!