from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To cause (a floating log) to spin rapidly by rotating with the feet.
  • intransitive v. To participate in birling.
  • intransitive v. To spin.
  • n. A whirring noise; a hum.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To spin.
  • v. To cause a floating log to rotate by treading on it.
  • v. Alternative form of birle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • v. To revolve or cause to revolve; to spin.
  • v. To pour (beer or wine); to ply with drink; to drink; to carouse.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To pour out (wine, etc.) for.
  • To supply or ply with drink.
  • To drink in company;carouse.
  • To move or rotate rapidly; make a noise like that made by wheels moving rapidly over stones or gravel.
  • To cause to rotate; twirl or spin (as a coin) in the air or on a table, as in pitch-and-toss; hence, to toss out (a coin or coins) on the table as one's contribution; contribute as one's share in paying for drinks: as, “I'll birl my bawbee,”
  • In lumbering, to cause a floating log to rotate rapidly by treading upon it.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cause a floating log to rotate by treading
  • v. cause to spin


Blend of birr1 and whirl.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Onomatopoeic. (Wiktionary)
See birle. (Wiktionary)



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  • Some lumberjack waltz

    April 20, 2016

  • A lumberjack pleases his girl
    By skill at the lubricious twirl.
    The peavey applied
    To front and backside
    Is something they learn when they birl.

    April 20, 2016

  • "GOAL Celtic 2-2 Rangers Scott McDonald again. He birls in the Rangers box and hits a great shot that deflects off Broadfoot's, erm, foot and spins over the top of helpless Alexander. Rangers pay for slack play."
    - football commentary page on BBC website, 27 April 2008.

    April 27, 2008

  • Now that I think about it, birl also meant "to attempt", especially when encouraging someone else.

    eg. "Go on, give it a birl."

    November 22, 2007

  • I reckon that's a contraction and ozzification of barreling, bilby.

    In fact that could be the origin of the log-riding, too.

    November 22, 2007

  • In Australia the sense is - or at least was, because I haven't heard this for a long time - to travel quickly.
    "He was birling along the highway doing ninety."

    November 21, 2007

  • I live in Canada, this is how I get to work each day.

    November 17, 2007