Today, the word spiel means "persuasive speech", but it comes from a German word meaning "performance" or "game", possibly by way of Yiddish shpil, which meant "game" or "fun". That traces to the Old High German and Proto-West Germanic words spil, with the same definition. Finally, spil has an uncertain etymology, and tenuous connections have been made to a Latvian word for "pinch". Spiel can also serve as a verb meaning "to gamble" or "play music", with both of those meanings also tracing to the German noun, and, in Scottish English, it can mean "curling match" - that's an unrelated shortening of the (ultimately Dutch) word bonspiel, which referred to matches in games or sports in general. Literary usage of spiel has been steadily increasing over time, with a peak in 2014.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.