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See also: Carrel



Etymology 1[edit]

carrel desks (2)

From Medieval Latin carula, probably from Latin corolla (little crown) in the sense of “ring”; or from Middle English caroll, from Medieval Latin carola, from Late Latin carola (round dance; round object), from Latin choraula,[1] variant of choraulēs (flute player) (further etymology at carol).

Alternative forms[edit]


carrel (plural carrels)

  1. (architecture) A small closet or enclosure built against a window on the inner side, to sit in for study.
    • 1822, Edward James Willson, comp., “Carol, or Carrel”, in A Glossary of Technical Terms, Descriptive of Gothic Architecture: Collected from Official Records, Passages in the Works of Poets, Historians, &c. of a Date Contemporay with that Style: And Collated with the Elucidations and Notes of Various Commentators, Glossarists, and Modern Editors. To Accompany the Specimens of Gothic Architecture, by A[gustus] Pugin, – Architect, 3rd edition, London: Printed for J[ohn] Taylor, Architectural Library, 59, High Holborn; J. Britton, Burton Street; and A. Pugin, 34, Store Street, OCLC 939430684, pages 2–3:
      Carol, or Carrel. A little pew, or closet, in a cloister, to sit and read in. They were common in greater monasteries, as Duram, Gloucester, Kirkham in Yorkshire, &c.; and had their name from the carols, or sentences inscribed on the walls about them, which often were couplets in rhyme. [Carola, Low Latin.]
    • 1860, Mackenzie Walcott, “[The Abbeys of Scotland.] Melrose”, in The Minsters and Abbey Ruins of the United Kingdom: Their History, Architecture, Monuments, and Traditions; with Notices of the Larger Parish Churches and Collegiate Chapels, London: Edward Stanford, 6, Charing Cross, OCLC 931097473, page 257:
      An exquisite south-east door is preserved; it is round-headed, of four orders, with a foliated label. A canopied carol or monk's seat, a Pointed crocketed arch within a square case, is seen beside it, succeeded on the south wall by an arcade of trefoiled arches with toothed mouldings.
  2. Hence, a partially partitioned space for studying or reading, often in a library.
    He was busy writing his report in a small library carrel.
    • 2011, David Bellos, chapter 19, in Is that a Fish in Your Ear?:
      I sneaked a look at what the German student in the next carrel was reading. It was Hegel, too—but in English translation!

Etymology 2[edit]

Possibly a variant of quarrel.


carrel (plural carrels)

  1. A square-headed arrow; a quarrel.


  1. ^ carrel”, in Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary