• synonyms


noun Chiefly Northern U.S.
  1. a game played by lumberjacks, in which each tries to balance longest on a floating log while rotating the log with the feet.
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Origin of birling


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.
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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.
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  1. British Informal. an attempt; a gamble.
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Origin of birl

1715–25; perhaps blend of birr1 and whirl, influenced, in some senses, by birle
Related formsbirl·er, noun


[burl; Scot. birl]Chiefly Scot.
verb (used with object), birled, birl·ing.
  1. to pour (a drink) or pour a drink for.
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verb (used without object), birled, birl·ing.
  1. to drink deeply; carouse.
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Origin of birle

before 1000; Middle English birlen, Old English byrelian, derivative of byrele butler; akin to bear1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for birling

Historical Examples of birling

  • By the way, did you fellows ever square up on that birling match?

    Blazed Trail Stories

    Stewart Edward White

  • Why was the sympathy of the crowd with Jimmy Powers in the birling match?

  • Birling the brown bowl wi' the fowler and the falconer, and some o' the serving folk.

British Dictionary definitions for birling


  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
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  1. a variant spelling of burl 2
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Derived Formsbirling, noun

Word Origin for birl

C18: probably imitative and influenced by whirl and hurl


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

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