Site name and logo


Q From Margaret Sonmez: I wondered about the origins of the following term which I have never come across outside knitting patterns: purl (a type of stitch).

A Purl is from an obsolete Scots word pirl, which means a “twist”. It was applied in the sixteenth century to a thread or cord made of twisted gold or silver wire that was used for embroidery. It may be that it was then transferred by analogy to the ribbed look of purl knitting, though the OED has a note saying that the derivation is far from obvious. It is sometimes spelled pearl, which may be a mistake, but may equally imply a different origin.

Support this website and keep it available!

There are no adverts on this site. I rely on the kindness of visitors to pay the running costs. Donate via PayPal by selecting your currency from the list and clicking Donate. Specify the amount you wish to give on the PayPal site.

Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 25 Jul 1998