Last modified on 18 June 2013, at 00:02



The verb is from the 16th century. Origin uncertain, related to purl, pirn, prill (OED; more at pern, preen). The noun is derived from the verb in the 19th century.


pirl (third-person singular simple present pirls, present participle pirling, simple past and past participle pirled)

  1. to twist or wind, especially into a cord or braid etc.
  2. to ripple, swirl, especially of water
  3. (transitive) to cause to revolve or spin


pirl (plural pirls)

  1. a ripple; a twist or curl