Saturday, 2 January 2016


Seen on Facebook: Yule is derived from the Old Norse word for wheel.

In reality, yule is from Old English geōl, geohol "Christmas Day". It is cognate with Old Norse jól, "a heathen feast lasting 12 days" (OED). Its further etymology is unknown.

Wordorigins has more on yule.

The idea that it is from the Old Norse for "wheel" probably originates in the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, which says

Yule is derived into modern English from Jól deriving from Old Norse hjól, wheel, referring to the moment when the wheel of the year is at its low point, ready to rise again (compare to the Slavic karachun).

Skeat's Concise Dictionary of English Etymology says of yule "The attempt to connect this word with wheel is perfectly futile, and explains nothing."

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