no·​el | \ nō-ˈel How to pronounce noel (audio) \

Definition of noel

1 : a Christmas carol The choir sang noels during the Christmas season.
2 capitalized : christmas wished his friends a joyous Noel

Did you know?

English speakers borrowed the word noel from French. It can be traced further back to the Latin word natalis, which can mean "birthday" as a noun or "of or relating to birth" as an adjective. (The English adjective natal has the same meaning and is also an offspring of natalis.) Noels were being sung in Latin or French for centuries before English-speakers started using the word to refer to Christmas carols in the 18th century. An early use of noel (spelled nowell) to mean "Christmas" can be found in the text of the late 14th-century Arthurian legend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

First Known Use of noel

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for noel

French noël Christmas, carol, from Old French Nael (Deu), Noel Christmas, from Latin natalis birthday, from natalis natal

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The first known use of noel was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Noel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for noel


no·​el | \ nō-ˈel How to pronounce noel (audio) \

Kids Definition of noel

1 : a Christmas carol
2 capitalized : the Christmas season

More from Merriam-Webster on noel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for noel

Nglish: Translation of noel for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about noel


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