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, No?l
Rare a Christmas carol
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Noël, Nowel, Nowell

Contemporary English dictionaries define the word "noel" (also spelled "nowel" or "nowell") as a cry of joy associated with the celebration of Christmas. In past eras English speakers also used the word to refer to the feast of Christmas itself. This usage never faded in the French language, where the word Noël still means Christmas, or, when spelled without a capital "n," means "Christmas carol." Although the English word "noel" is now considered somewhat obsolete, a number of traditional Christmas carols retain this old expression.

Researchers differ in their explanations of the origin of the word "noel." Most trace it back to the Latin word for birthday, natalis. Indeed, in the fourth century Church authorities in Rome introduced Christmas as Dies Natalis Domini, the "Birthday of the Lord" (see also December 25). The more formal name for the holiday was FestumNativitatis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, the "Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ." Over the centuries the Latin words Natalis and Nativitatis passed into local languages across western Europe giving birth to vernacular words for Christmas. For example, the Portuguese call Christmas Natal, the Italians refer to it as Natale, and the Spanish call it Navidad. Other modern words for Christmas that probably evolved from the Latin natalis include the Gaelic Nollaig, the Welsh Nadolig, and the Provençal Nadal. Most scholars also trace the English "noel" and the French "Noël" back to the Latin word natalis.

In contrast, other writers suggest that the English word "noel" evolved from the Latin word for "news," novella. They believe that this Latin term was used to tell the joyous news of Jesus' birth, and so became the jubilant cry of those celebrating the feast of Christmas, or even another term for the feast itself. One researcher who supports this theory notes that in the Middle Ages people greeted news of especially happy events with cries of "noel." Finally, another scholar has suggested that "noel" comes from the Hebrew word Immanuel (or Emmanuel). This word - which, in Christian scripture is used to refer to Jesus (Matthew 1:23) - means "God with us."

Further Reading

Crippen, Thomas G. Christmas and Christmas Lore. 1923. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990. Duncan, Edmondstoune. The Story of the Carol. 1911. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1992. Miles, Clement A. Christmas in Ritual and Tradition. 1912. Reprint. Detroit, Mich.: Omnigraphics, 1990. Stevens, Patricia Bunning. Merry Christmas!: A History of the Holiday. New York: Macmillan, 1979.
Encyclopedia of Christmas and New Year's Celebrations, 2nd ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2003


McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


An old English term for newel.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Louise Nowell from Groundwork said: "We have made a lot of progress but still need lots of things big and small.
It is that togetherness and resilience under pressure that Nowell believes should give England fans hope as they digest a Championship that promised much following victory in Dublin but ultimately ended in disappointment.
"When we improved the forecast, we scheduled people better, and they were more aligned with our call arrival patterns, which allows for a better member experience," Nowell said.
Forwards coach Steve Borthwick has revealed that Hartley is struggling with muscle tightness in his leg, while Nowell and Underhill have been afflicted by respective ankle and toe injuries sustained in training over the weekend.
Back Nowell is likely to miss the climax to the tournament against Ireland a week on Saturday, but flanker Underhill could be back for the final instalment of England's title defence.
Nowell is also likely to miss the climax to the tournament against Ireland on Saturday week but Underhill could be back for the final instalment of England's title defence.
Nowell piled on the pounds late last year after being forced to remain immobile for all but 10 minutes of the day in order to keep his blood pressure stable as clots gathered behind his eyes.
Three members of staff - Mr Nowell, Keith Rawsthorne and Alexander Allan - described him as "chatty and relaxed".
The Lions were awarded a penalty try, which resulted in Brown receiving his 10-minute sojourn on the sidelines, then Nowell and Jared Payne both touched down while he was still off the field as the visitors' sustained pressure finally paid off.
But it was all go for Jack Nowell, who warmed up for the tour to New Zealand by mauling Saints.
In this new book, we are introduced to the life and mind of Elizabeth Nowell, Wolfe's biographer, agent, editor, friend, and handwriting translator.
Wilmington, DE, October 13, 2016 --( Bradley & Nowell has set a new company record for successful funding of clients.