[ burl ]
/ bɜrl /


a small knot or lump in wool, thread, or cloth.
a dome-shaped growth on the trunk of a tree; a wartlike structure sometimes 2 feet (0.6 meters) across and 1 foot (0.3 meters) or more in height, sliced to make veneer.

verb (used with object)

to remove burls from (cloth) in finishing.

Nearby words

  1. burkinabé,
  2. burkini,
  3. burkitt,
  4. burkitt lymphoma,
  5. burkitt's lymphoma,
  6. burladero,
  7. burlap,
  8. burlecue,
  9. burled,
  10. burleigh

Origin of burl

1400–50; late Middle English burleOld French; akin to Medieval Latin burla bunch, sheaf, Late Latin burra wool, fluff

Related formsburl·er, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for burl

British Dictionary definitions for burl


/ (bɜːl) /


a small knot or lump in wool
a roundish warty outgrowth from the trunk, roots, or branches of certain trees


(tr) to remove the burls from (cloth)
Derived Formsburler, noun

Word Origin for burl

C15: from Old French burle tuft of wool, probably ultimately from Late Latin burra shaggy cloth

noun informal

Scot, Australian and NZ an attempt; try (esp in the phrase give it a burl)
Australian and NZ a ride in a car

Word Origin for burl

C20: perhaps from birl 1 in the Scot sense: a twist or turn

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 burl



"small knot in wool or cloth," mid-15c., from Old French bourle "tuft of wool," which perhaps is related to the root of bur, or from Vulgar Latin *burrula "small flock of wool," from Late Latin burra "wool."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for burl


[ bûrl ]

A large, rounded outgrowth on the trunk or branch of a tree. Burls develop from one or more twig buds whose cells continue to multiply but never differentiate so that the twig can elongate into a limb. Burls do not usually cause harm to trees.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.