Origin of yule

before 900; Middle English yole, Old English geōl(a) Christmastide; cognate with Old Norse jōl; akin to Gothic jiuleis
Can be confusedyou'll yule
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yule

Historical Examples of yule

  • The grand staircase is as black before me as a Yule midnight!

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • This was at Yule, and the same practice held in the parish school of Thrums.

    Auld Licht Idylls

    J. M. Barrie

  • He's a fool that marries at Yule; for when the bairn's to bear the corn's to shear.

    The Proverbs of Scotland

    Alexander Hislop

  • The Yule log was blazing and sputtering all sorts of fireworks and colors.

    Fairy Prince and Other Stories

    Eleanor Hallowell Abbott

  • "Geoffrey," whispered Mr. Yule, with an air of satisfaction.


    Louisa May Alcott

British Dictionary definitions for yule


  1. (sometimes capital) literary, archaic, or dialect
    1. Christmas, the Christmas season, or Christmas festivities
    2. (in combination)yuletide

Word Origin for yule

Old English geōla, originally a name of a pagan feast lasting 12 days; related to Old Norse jōl, Swedish jul, Gothic jiuleis
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 yule

Old English geol, geola "Christmas Day, Christmastide," from Old Norse jol (plural), a heathen feast, later taken over by Christianity, of unknown origin.

The Old English (Anglian) cognate giuli was the Anglo-Saxons' name for a two-month midwinter season corresponding to Roman December and January, a time of important feasts but not itself a festival. After conversion to Christianity it narrowed to mean "the 12-day feast of the Nativity" (which began Dec. 25), but was replaced by Christmas by 11c., except in the northeast (areas of Danish settlement), where it remained the usual word.

Revived 19c. by writers to mean "the Christmas of 'Merrie England.' " First direct reference to the Yule log is 17c. Old Norse jol seems to have been borrowed in Old French as jolif, hence Modern French joli "pretty, nice," originally "festive" (see jolly).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper