noun (1)
\ ˈpər(-ə)l How to pronounce purl (audio) \

Definition of purl

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : gold or silver thread or wire for embroidering or edging
2 : the intertwisting of thread that knots a stitch usually along an edge


verb (1)
purled; purling; purls

Definition of purl (Entry 2 of 4)

transitive verb

1a : to embroider with gold or silver thread
b : to edge or border with gold or silver embroidery
2 : to knit in purl stitch

intransitive verb

: to do knitting in purl stitch


noun (2)

Definition of purl (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : a purling or swirling stream or rill
2 : a gentle murmur or movement (as of purling water)


verb (2)
purled; purling; purls

Definition of purl (Entry 4 of 4)

intransitive verb

1 : eddy, swirl
2 : to make a soft murmuring sound like that of a purling stream

First Known Use of purl

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1518, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

circa 1552, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for purl

Noun (1)

Middle English

Noun (2)

perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian purla to ripple

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Time Traveler for purl

Time Traveler

The first known use of purl was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Purl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purl. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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