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.
- Rhymes: -ɜː(r)l
churl (plural churls)