es·​piè·​gle e-ˈspyeglᵊ How to pronounce espiègle (audio)

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Espiègle is a corruption of Ulespiegle, the French name for Till Eulenspiegel, a peasant prankster of German folklore. Tales of Eulenspiegel's merry pranks against well-to-do townsmen, clergy, and nobility were first translated into French in 1532 and into English around 1560. In the 19th century, Sir Walter Scott introduced his readers to the adjective espiègle and the related noun espièglerie (a word for "roguishness" or "playfulness") in his Waverley novels. Other 19th century authors followed suit, and even today these words are most likely to be encountered in literature.

Examples of espiègle in a Sentence

the espiègle light in the young princess's eye faded when she contemplated the stifling restrictions of court life

Word History


French, after Ulespiegle (Till Eulenspiegel), peasant prankster

First Known Use

1816, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of espiègle was in 1816


Dictionary Entries Near espiègle

Cite this Entry

“Espiègle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

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