1. a Christmas carol;
2. capitalized : Christmas.

1. We unwrapped our Christmas presents while listening to a CD of delightful and familiar noels.
2. “Holiday music will fill the air as the Southern Miss Gulf Coast Civic Chorale performs their annual holiday concerts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The performance, ‘Peaceful Noel,’ will feature Franz Schubert’s ‘Mass in G,’ along with traditional seasonal favorites.” — From an article by Charmaine Williams Schmermund in Southern Miss Now (Mississippi), November 26, 2013.

English speakers borrowed the word “noel” from French. It can be traced further back to the Latin word “natalis,” which can mean “birthday” as a noun or “of or relating to birth” as an adjective. (The English adjective “natal” has the same meaning and is also an offspring of “natalis.”). Noels were being sung in Latin or French for centuries before the word found its way into our language in the 1800s. The earliest known musical use of “noel” occurred in the text of a Christmas motet called “Nova vobis gaudia,” which was written in the 1400s.

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  • December 25, 2013
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