noel

noun

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

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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

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Cite this Entry

“Noel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/noel. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

noel

noun
no·​el nō-ˈel How to pronounce noel (audio)
1
: a Christmas carol
2
capitalized : the Christmas season
Etymology

from French noël "Christmas, a carol," derived from Latin natalis "birthday"

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