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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about purl

Time Traveler for purl

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for purl

Cite this Entry

“Purl.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/purl. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on purl

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for purl

Nglish: Translation of purl for Spanish Speakers

Comments on purl

What made you want to look up purl? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!