churl (chûrl)
n. 1) A rude, boorish person. See Synonyms at BOOR(Cf. ↑boor). 2) A miserly person. 3) a) A ceorl. b) A medieval English peasant.
[Middle English, from Old English ceorl, peasant.]
Word History: The Old English word ceorl (in which the c was pronounced (ch) as in modern English churl) designated a freeman of the lowest class—one who had a social position above a slave but below a thane. Ceorl comes from Germanic *karilaz, whose basic meaning is "old man." In Finnish, which is not a Germanic language, the Germanic word was borrowed and survives almost unchanged as karilas, "old man." The Old Norse descendant of the Germanic word, karl, means "old man, servant," and the Old High German equivalent, karal, meaning "man, lover, husband," has become the name Karl. The Germanic word also entered Old French as Charles, from which we have the name Charles. The Medieval Latin form Carolus is based on the Old High German karal. The fame of Carolus Magnus, "Charles the Great," or Charlemagne, added luster to the name Carolus, and the Slavic languages later borrowed the name as their general word for "king," korol' in Russian—and so, despite the gulf between a king and a churl, the Russsian korol and the Old English ceorl are related.

Word Histories. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Churl — Churl, n. [AS. ceorl a freeman of the lowest rank, man, husband; akin to D. karel, kerel, G. kerl, Dan. & Sw. karl, Icel. karl, and to the E. proper name Charles (orig., man, male), and perh. to Skr. j[=a]ra lover. Cf. {Carl}, {Charles s Wain}.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • churl — churl; churl·ish; churl·ish·ly; churl·ish·ness; …   English syllables

  • Churl — Churl, a. Churlish; rough; selfish. [Obs.] Ford. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • churl — [chʉrl] n. [ME cherl < OE ceorl, peasant, freeman: for IE base see CORN1] 1. CEORL 2. a farm laborer; peasant 3. a surly, ill bred person; boor 4. a selfish or mean person …   English World dictionary

  • churl — O.E. ceorl peasant, freeman, man without rank, from P.Gmc. *kerlaz, *karlaz (Cf. O.Fris. zerl man, fellow, M.L.G. kerle, Du. kerel, Ger. Kerl man, husband, O.N. karl old man, man ). It had various meaning in early M.E., including man of the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • churl — n *boor, lout, clown, clodhopper, bumpkin, hick, yokel, rube Antonyms: *gentleman, aristocrat …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • churl — [n] rude and ill bred, a boor; person overly concerned with saving money beast, chuff, clodhopper*, miser, mucker*, niggard*, oaf, peasant, provincial, rustic, tightwad, yokel; concept 423 …   New thesaurus

  • churl — ► NOUN 1) an impolite and mean spirited person. 2) archaic a peasant. ORIGIN Old English …   English terms dictionary

  • Churl — A churl (etymologically the same name as Charles / Carl and Old High German karal), in its earliest Old English (Anglo Saxon) meaning, was simply a man , but the word soon came to mean a non servile peasant , still spelt ċeorl(e), and denoting… …   Wikipedia

  • churl — /cherrl/, n. 1. a rude, boorish, or surly person. 2. a peasant; rustic. 3. a niggard; miser: He was a churl in his affections. 4. Eng. Hist. a freeman of the lowest rank. [bef. 900; ME cherl, OE ceorl man, freeman; c. D kerel, G Kerl; akin to… …   Universalium

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