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Petrichor: The smell after rainfall


[til] /tɪl/
verb (used with object)
to labor, as by plowing or harrowing, upon (land) for the raising of crops; cultivate.
to plow.
verb (used without object)
to cultivate the soil.
Origin of till2
before 900; Middle English tilen, Old English tilian to strive after, get, till; cognate with Dutch telen to breed, cultivate, German zielen to aim at
Related forms
mistilled, adjective
untilled, adjective
untilling, adjective
well-tilled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for tilling
Historical Examples
  • From this give a reason for tilling soil, for rolling after seeding.

    Ontario Teachers' Manuals: Nature Study Ontario Ministry of Education
  • He saw himself working in the flowers and tilling the vegetable garden.

    From Place to Place Irvin S. Cobb
  • The profession of advocate had terrified him, and he shuddered at the idea of tilling the soil.

    Therese Raquin Emile Zola
  • Nothing man did seemed more interesting than this tilling and sowing.

    Otherwise Phyllis Meredith Nicholson
  • The Papuans are the first to change the digging-stick into the hoe, a useful implement in tilling the soil.

  • It was a slow train, but it got there, and in any case it went away from tilling.

    Miss Mapp Edward Frederic Benson
  • There is exquisite humour in the following noodle-story: Two brothers were tilling the ground together.

    The Book of Noodles W. A. Clouston
  • Miss Mapp was spokesman for the mind of tilling on this too indulgent judgment.

    Miss Mapp Edward Frederic Benson
  • Without its aid, how could men have procured sustenance among tribes to whom the art of tilling the land was not known?

  • “That depends on you gentlemen,” she said with greater audacity than was usual in tilling.

    Miss Mapp Edward Frederic Benson
British Dictionary definitions for tilling


conjunction, preposition
Also (not standard) 'til short for until
(Scot) to; towards
(dialect) in order that: come here till I tell you
Usage note
Till is a variant of until that is acceptable at all levels of language. Until is, however, often preferred at the beginning of a sentence in formal writing: until his behaviour improves, he cannot become a member
Word Origin
Old English til; related to Old Norse til to, Old High German zil goal, aim


verb (transitive)
to cultivate and work (land) for the raising of crops
another word for plough
Derived Forms
tillable, adjective
tiller, noun
Word Origin
Old English tilian to try, obtain; related to Old Frisian tilia to obtain, Old Saxon tilōn to obtain, Old High German zilōn to hasten towards


a box, case, or drawer into which the money taken from customers is put, now usually part of a cash register
Word Origin
C15 tylle, of obscure origin


an unstratified glacial deposit consisting of rock fragments of various sizes. The most common is boulder clay
Word Origin
C17: of unknown origin
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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Word Origin and History for tilling



"until," Old English til (Northumbrian), from Old Norse til "to, until," from Proto-Germanic *tilan (cf. Danish til, Old Frisian til "to, till," Gothic tils "convenient," German Ziel "limit, end, goal"). A common preposition in Scandinavian, probably originally the accusative case of a noun now lost except for Icelandic tili "scope," the noun used to express aim, direction, purpose (e.g. aldrtili "death," literally "end of life"). Also cf. German Ziel "end, limit, point aimed at, goal," and compare till (v.).


"cultivate (land)" (early 13c.), "plow" (late 14c.), from Old English tilian "tend, work at, get by labor," originally "strive after," related to till "fixed point, goal," and til "good, suitable," from Proto-Germanic *tilojanan (cf. Old Frisian tilia "to get, cultivate," Old Saxon tilian "to obtain," Middle Dutch, Dutch telen "to breed, raise, cultivate, cause," Old High German zilon "to strive," German zielen "to aim, strive"), from source of till (prep.). Related: Tilled; tilling.


"cashbox," mid-15c., from Anglo-French tylle "compartment," Old French tille "compartment, shelter on a ship," probably from Old Norse þilja "plank, floorboard," from Proto-Germanic *theljon. The other theory is that the word is from Middle English tillen "to draw," from Old English -tyllan (see toll (v.)), with a sense evolution as in drawer (see draw).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tilling in Science
An unstratified, unconsolidated mass of boulders, pebbles, sand, and mud deposited by the movement or melting of a glacier. The size and shape of the sediments that constitute till vary widely.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for tilling


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with tilling


In addition to the subsequent idioms beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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