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birling

[bur-ling] /ˈbɜr lɪŋ/
noun, Chiefly Northern U.S.
1.
a game played by lumberjacks, in which each tries to balance longest on a floating log while rotating the log with the feet.
Origin
birl + -ing1

birl

[burl] /bɜrl/
verb (used with object)
1.
Chiefly Northern U.S. Lumbering. to cause (a floating log) to rotate rapidly by treading upon it.
2.
British. to spin or cause to rotate.
verb (used without object)
3.
Chiefly Northern U.S. Lumbering. to cause a floating log to rotate rapidly by treading on it.
4.
British.
  1. to move or rotate rapidly.
  2. Informal. to spend money freely.
  3. Informal. to gamble.
noun
5.
British Informal. an attempt; a gamble.
Origin
1715-25; perhaps blend of birr1 and whirl, influenced, in some senses, by birle
Related forms
birler, noun

birle

[burl; Scot. birl] /bɜrl; Scot. bɪrl/
verb (used with object), birled, birling.
1.
to pour (a drink) or pour a drink for.
verb (used without object), birled, birling.
2.
to drink deeply; carouse.
Origin
before 1000; Middle English birlen, Old English byrelian, derivative of byrele butler; akin to bear1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for birling

birl1

/bɜːl; Scottish bɪrl/
verb
1.
(Scot) to spin; twirl
2.
(US & Canadian) to cause (a floating log) to spin using the feet while standing on it, esp as a sport among lumberjacks
noun
3.
a variant spelling of burl2
Derived Forms
birling, noun
Word Origin
C18: probably imitative and influenced by whirl and hurl

birl2

/bɜːl; Scottish bɪrl/
verb
1.
(archaic, Scot) to ply (one's guests, etc) with drink
Word Origin
Old English byrelian; related to byrele cup-bearer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for birling

outdoor sport of the North American lumberjack. Its origin can be traced to the spring log drives of eastern Canada and the New England states, particularly the state of Maine, during the early lumbering era in the 19th century, from which it moved westward to the Great Lakes region and then to the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more about birling with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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