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[pur-fuh l] /ˈpɜr fəl/
verb (used with object), purfled, purfling.
to finish with an ornamental border.
to decorate (a shrine or tabernacle) with architectural forms in miniature.
Also called purfling. an ornamental border, as the inlaid border near the outer edge of the table and back of a stringed instrument.
Origin of purfle
1275-1325; Middle English purfilen < Middle French porfiler to make or adorn a border, equivalent to por- pro1 + filer to spin, derivative of fil thread < Latin fīlum. See profile
Related forms
purfler, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for purfling
Historical Examples
  • For the bending of the purfling there may be, of course, any number of methods.

  • The purfling is composed of three strips of lime-tree, two of which are stained black.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The purfling of the brothers Amati is very beautifully executed.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The purfling is a trifle wider, but narrower than that afterwards used.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The purfling is of whalebone, like that of most of the Dutch makers.

    The Violin George Hart
  • A further difference between Amati and Jacobs lies in the circumstance that the latter invariably used a purfling of whalebone.

    The Violin George Hart
  • They are sometimes seen ornamented round the purfling with ebony, diamond and lozenge shape.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The instruments covered with the brown varnish are often without any device on their backs, and seldom have two rows of purfling.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The purfling is unusually narrow, and roughly worked; the scroll is stiff, and the absence of finish is observable.

    The Violin George Hart
  • The purfling of these early instruments is very narrow, and many of the backs are cut slab-form.

    The Violin George Hart
British Dictionary definitions for purfling


a ruffled or curved ornamental band, as on clothing, furniture, etc
(transitive) to decorate with such a band or bands
Word Origin
C14: from Old French purfiler to decorate with a border, from filer to spin, from fil thread, from Latin fīlum
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
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