• synonyms


or pearl

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to knit with a reverse stitch.
  2. to finish with loops or a looped edging.
  1. a basic stitch in knitting, the reverse of the knit, formed by pulling a loop of the working yarn back through an existing stitch and then slipping that stitch off the needle.Compare knit(def 11).
  2. one of a series of small loops along the edge of lace braid.
  3. thread made of twisted gold or silver wire.

Origin of purl1

First recorded in 1520–30; variant of obsolete or dial. pirl to twist (threads, etc.) into a cord


verb (used without object)
  1. to flow with curling or rippling motion, as a shallow stream does over stones.
  2. to flow with a murmuring sound.
  3. to pass in a manner or with a sound likened to this.
  1. the action or sound of purling.
  2. a circle or curl made by the motion of water; ripple; eddy.

Origin of purl2

1545–55; origin uncertain; akin to Norwegian purla to bubble up, gush
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for purl

Historical Examples

  • Here again they are attached with the help of pieces of purl.

    Embroidery and Tapestry Weaving</p>

    Grace Christie

  • The stitches should be about the width of the needle apart to allow for the purl.

    Textiles and Clothing

    Kate Heintz Watson

  • Cast on 50 stitches then knit or purl the same amount of rows as stitches.

  • (Make all decreases at this side, on the purl row in this manner).

  • The purl warms the cockles of Tom's heart, and makes him cough.

British Dictionary definitions for purl


  1. Also called: purl stitch a knitting stitch made by doing a plain stitch backwards
  2. a decorative border, as of lace
  3. gold or silver wire thread
  1. to knit (a row or garment) in purl stitch
  2. to edge (something) with a purl
Also (for senses 2, 3, 5): pearl

Word Origin

C16: from dialect pirl to twist into a cord


  1. (intr) (of a stream, etc) to flow with a gentle curling or rippling movement and a murmuring sound
  1. a curling movement of water; eddy
  2. a murmuring sound, as of a shallow stream

Word Origin

C16: related to Norwegian purla to bubble
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

Word Origin and History for purl


"knit with inverted stitches," 1825; earlier "embroider with gold or silver thread" (1520s), probably from Middle English pirlyng "revolving, twisting," of unknown origin. The two senses usually are taken as one word, but even this is not certain. Klein suggests a source in Italian pirolare "to twirl," from pirolo "top." As a noun, from late 14c. as "bordering, frills," 1530s as "twisted thread of gold and silver."


"flow with a murmuring sound," 1580s, imitative, perhaps from a Scandinavian language. Related: Purled; purling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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