Main definitions of purl in English

: purl1purl2

purl1

noun

  • 1A knitting stitch made by putting the needle through the front of the stitch from right to left:

    [as modifier] ‘a purl stitch’
    Compare with plain
    • ‘Look at how crisp the bobbles are and regularity the purl stitches.’
    • ‘Priscilla Gibson-Roberts explains how wrapping the yarns the way most western cultures do for the purl stitch, tends to use just a bit more yarn, so the purls rows are just a little looser than the knit rows.’
    • ‘Eddie was trying to explain to Pride the difference between knit and purl, and how to use each of them.’
  • 2A cord of twisted gold or silver wire used for bordering or edging something.

    • ‘The spangle kept in place by a stitch through a short piece of Purl.’
    1. 2.1 An ornamental edging of lace or ribbon.
      • ‘Portrayed in seventeenth-century dress, the central figures are richly picked out in colourful threads of satin and stern stitch with couched silk and purl.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Knit with a purl stitch:

    ‘knit one, purl one’
    • ‘I was most overwhelmed and went to bed having nightmares about socked feet walking up and down my naked body shouting knit one purl one faster faster…’
    • ‘Suddenly he found there were other skills he had to teach his girls - knitting was just one of them, but the self-taught silversmith soon picked up the knit one, purl one skills as well!’
    • ‘It was just an experiment piece - where I tried to remember how to knit, purl, cast off, increase and decrease etc.’
    • ‘Purl one, knit one, purl one, purl one - wait, that was a knit, wasn't it?’
    • ‘Or perhaps it'll be cyber-knitters, chanting some elaborated version of ‘knit one, purl two’ as they create mythic tapestries or heal rifts in the fabric of space-time.’
    • ‘I searched the Internet and found Web sites that had actual movies of how to cast on as well as knit, purl, and cast off.’
    • ‘Although, I find it less annoying than a rib - knit 3, move yarn, purl 3, move yarn, repeat - because I always loose track of what stitch I'm on.’
    gurgle, bubble, murmur, purr, purl, tinkle, whir, drone, rumble, buzz, hum
    View synonyms

Origin

Mid 17th century: of uncertain origin.

Pronunciation:

purl

/pəːl/

Main definitions of purl in English

: purl1purl2

purl2

verb

[NO OBJECT]literary
  • (of a stream or river) flow with a swirling motion and babbling sound:

    ‘large stones stood blackly in the water, making it purl as it rolled around them’
    • ‘The water gurgled and purled, loudly at first, then softly, as a powerful foot-wide whirlpool took shape.’
    • ‘He sits on the bank and, wretched, stares into the purling water.’
    • ‘I look out of the window and through the purling drops I can see gutters running with water; I can see the clouds almost black with rain to come.’
    • ‘Miri could not imagine there was such a beautiful place as the island of Philae, an island amongst islands washed by the purling waters of the Nile.’
    splash, wash, swish, slap, slosh, break, purl
    View synonyms

noun

literary
  • [in singular] A purling motion or sound:

    ‘it was quiet except for the liquid purl of the fountain’
    • ‘Somewhere in the alleyway outside, cat song purled into the night.’
    • ‘‘See how easily the white meat slices,’ a dark, rumbling voice purled around the gunner's ears.’
    • ‘His hands just purled off notes in all shapes and forms.’
    • ‘The shadows lurched forward, purling around his ankles like tendrils of smoke.’
    • ‘A mercurial figure whom Sacco often draws veiled in purls of cigarette smoke, Neven is a ‘fixer,’ a source and guide to foreign journalists seeking access to the front lines.’
    • ‘No. 23 (F Major - Moderato) purls off the piano like drops of water for some forty seconds before the conclusion begins, in No. 24 (D Minor - Allegro appassionato), sweeping, broad, interlaced with runs.’

Origin

Early 16th century (denoting a small swirling stream): probably imitative; compare with Norwegian purla bubble up.

Pronunciation:

purl

/pəːl/