Word Origin & History
"frame turning on an axis," late O.E. hreol "reel for winding thread," from P.Gmc. *khrekhulaz; probably related to hrægel "garment," and O.N. hræll "spindle." Specifically of the fishing rod attachment from 1726; of a film projector apparatus from 1896. The verb meaning "to wind on a reel"
is recorded from 1393, from the noun. To reel off "rattle off without pause or effort" is from 1837. Reel-to-reel type of tape deck is attested from 1961.
"lively Highland dance," 1585, probably a special use of the verb sense of reel
(n.1). Applied to the music for such a dance from 1591.
"to whirl around," c.1300, probably from reel
(n.1), on notion of "spinning." Of the mind, from 1796.