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

  • n. A rude, boorish person. See Synonyms at boor.
  • n. A miserly person.
  • n. A ceorl.
  • n. A medieval English peasant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a boorish person; a peasant
  • n. : a freedman, ranked below a thane but above a thrall
  • n. ill-mannered lout

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Churlish; rough; selfish.
  • n. A rustic; a countryman or laborer.
  • n. A rough, surly, ill-bred man; a boor.
  • n. A selfish miser; an illiberal person; a niggard.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A rustic; a peasant; a countryman or laborer.
  • n. Specifically In early English history, one of the lowest class of freemen; one who held land from or worked on the estate of his lord.
  • n. A coarse, rude, surly, sullen, or ill-tempered person.
  • n. A miser; a niggard.
  • Churlish.

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

  • n. a selfish person who is unwilling to give or spend
  • n. a bad-tempered person
  • n. a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement


Middle English, from Old English ceorl, peasant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English churl, cherl, cheorl, from Old English ċeorl ("a freeman of the lowest class, a churl, a countryman, husbandman, a hero, husband, man, male person, a man of inferior class, peasant, rustic, commoner, layman"), from Proto-Germanic *karilaz (“man, elder”), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵera-, *ǵrā- (“grown-up, old, mature”). Cognate with Scots churl ("a churl, a rustic"), North Frisian tzierl, tjierl, tsjerl ("fellow, man, churl"), West Frisian tsjirl ("fellow, churl"), Dutch kerel ("man, churl, fellow"), Low German kerl, kerel, kirl ("man, fellow, churl"), German Kerl ("man, fellow"), Swedish karl ("man, fellow"), Icelandic karl ("a male"). The deprecating sense develops by 1300. The variant carl, carle (without derogatory connotation) is a loan from the Old Norse cognate. See carl, carle. (Wiktionary)



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