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 the word found its way into our language in the 1800s. The earliest known musical use of noel occurred in the text of a Christmas motet called "Nova vobis gaudia," which was written in the 1400s.

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 6 May. 2021.

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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

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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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