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verb (used with object)
  1. Chiefly Northern U.S. Lumbering. to cause (a floating log) to rotate rapidly by treading upon it.
  2. British. to spin or cause to rotate.
verb (used without object)
  1. Chiefly Northern U.S. Lumbering. to cause a floating log to rotate rapidly by treading on it.
  2. British.
    1. to move or rotate rapidly.
    2. Informal.to spend money freely.
    3. Informal.to gamble.
  1. British Informal. an attempt; a gamble.

Origin of birl

1715–25; perhaps blend of birr1 and whirl, influenced, in some senses, by birle
Related formsbirl·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for birl

Historical Examples

  • Suddenly with one accord they commenced to birl the log from left to right.

    Blazed Trail Stories

    Stewart Edward White

British Dictionary definitions for birl


  1. Scot to spin; twirl
  2. US and Canadian to cause (a floating log) to spin using the feet while standing on it, esp as a sport among lumberjacks
  1. a variant spelling of burl 2
Derived Formsbirling, noun

Word Origin

C18: probably imitative and influenced by whirl and hurl


  1. archaic, Scot to ply (one's guests, etc) with drink

Word Origin

Old English byrelian; related to byrele cup-bearer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012