Purl has always been such a weird word to me. A kind of stitch in knitting, the term for it always seemed kind of foreign and strange to enunciate. So I looked up its etymology, and turns out there's no solid evidence. However, there are several theories. Some linguists conjecture that it comes from the Middle English word pirlyng, which meant "twisting" and is kind of annoying because that too has a disputed origin. Next up is the Italian word pirolare, which meant "to twirl". Thirdly, there's the possibility of the old Venetian pirlo, a word for a place where knitting in general occurs. All in all though, results are overwhelmingly inconclusive. Oh, and apparently purl as a verb can also mean "to murmur", and that's imitative, through Scandinavian influences.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior 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.