The origin of the word is uncertain, but probably related to that of Kegel (“pin or peg used in a game (such as skittles)”). Outside of loans from German (as in Danish kugle and Dutch kogel), it appears only in German, and only from the Middle High German period, as kugel, kugele, referring to a ball used in games (Spielkugel). Nevertheless, the word seems to be of genuinely Germanic origin. A Swiss dialect form has an additional r, in krugle, found already in Middle High German in the diminutive form krúgellin (Konrad of Würzburg, d. 1287). Middle German variants of the word in the original sense “ball used in skittles or Paille-maille” are kaule, kulle, while Low German had cognates of Klotz. The sense “bullet” is directly via comparison with the ball in skittles, already in use for lead or iron spheres used as projectiles (fired with slingshots or similar) before firearms became widespread.
- ball [13th century]
- bullet [15th century]
- (astronomy, geography) orb, globe, celestial body [16th century]
- (geometry) sphere, orb [16th century]
- (heraldry) roundel (of any tincture)
- (of icecream) scoop
The German words Kugel and Ball are wontedly distinguished inasmuch as the former refers to solid balls (such as those used for billiards or bowling) while the latter refers to air-filled or elastic balls (such as tennis or soccer balls). This distinction may be neglected colloquially or jokingly.
Kugel f (genitive Kugel, plural Kugeln)
- alternative form of