But what does this most Christmassy of words mean? From the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which I love, inasmuch as a soul can love a dictionary:

Noel nəʊˈɛl noun. Also Noël. lME.

  • 1 Christmas. lME.
    Spectator A banner…wished us a felicitous Noel.
  • 2 (n-.) A Christmas carol. l18.
ORIGIN: French noël: see Nowel noun1.

Nowel nəʊˈɛl noun1. arch. Also -ll. lME.

  • 1 A word shouted or sung as an expression of joy, orig. to commemorate the birth of Jesus. Now only as retained in Christmas carols. lME.
  • 2† The feast of Christmas; Christmas time. lME–l16.
ORIGIN: Old French nouel, noel (mod. noël) obscure var. of nael, neel, from Latin natalis (sc. dies day) natal adjective1. Cf. Noel .

Fascinating dictionary abbreviations explained here.

Reason for the title here, and because I only realised recently there was a cast reunion for The Princess Bride (it has everything I could wish for in a movie, including lines like “True love is the greatest thing in the world. Except for a nice MLT — mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe.”) (If you haven’t watched it, may I please screen it for you?)


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