1

skirl

play
verb \ˈskər(-ə)l, ˈskir(-ə)l\

Definition of skirl

  1. intransitive verb
  2. of a bagpipe :  to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter; also :  to give forth music

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to play (music) on the bagpipe

skirl was our Word of the Day on 07/16/2012. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

Not every musical instrument is honored with its very own verb. But then, not every musical instrument emits a sound that quite matches that of a bagpipe. Depending on your ear, you might think bagpipes "give forth music," or you might be more apt to say they shriek. If you are of the latter opinion, your thinking aligns with the earliest sense of skirl - "to shriek." That early sense was used of screeching maids, winds, and the like. Scottish poet Robert Sempill first used it for bagpipes in the mid-1600s. The meaning of skirl has shifted over time, however, and these days you can use the verb without causing offense to bagpipers and bagpipe enthusiasts.

Origin and Etymology of skirl

Middle English (Scots) skrillen, skirlen to scream, shriek, of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect skræla to cry aloud; akin to Old English scrallettan to resound loudly


First Known Use: circa 1665


2

skirl

noun

Definition of skirl

  1. :  a high shrill sound produced by the chanter of a bagpipe

1856

First Known Use of skirl

1856


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