noel

noun
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

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best artificial christmas trees.

Learn More About noel

Time Traveler for noel

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About noel

Dictionary Entries Near noel

noekkelost

noel

Noel-Baker

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for noel

Cite this Entry

“Noel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/noel. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for noel

noel

noun
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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about noel

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

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!