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[kar-uh l] /ˈkær əl/
a song, especially of joy.
a Christmas song or hymn.
a seat in a bay window or oriel.
a compartment in a cloister, similar to a carrel.
a kind of circular dance.
verb (used without object), caroled, caroling or (especially British) carolled, carolling.
to sing Christmas songs or hymns, especially in a group performing in a public place or going from house to house.
to sing, especially in a lively, joyous manner; warble.
verb (used with object), caroled, caroling or (especially British) carolled, carolling.
to sing joyously.
to praise or celebrate in song.
Origin of carol
1250-1300; Middle English carole ring, circle (of stones), enclosed place for study (see carrel), ringdance with song (hence, song) < Anglo-French carole, Old French *corole (compare Old Provençal corola), apparently < Latin corolla garland (see corolla), conflated with Latin choraula < Greek choraúlēs piper for choral dance, equivalent to chor(ós) chorus + -aulēs, derivative of aulós pipe
Related forms
caroler; especially British, caroller, noun
outcarol, verb (used with object), outcaroled, outcaroling or (especially British) outcarolled, outcarolling.
uncaroled, adjective
uncarolled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for caroling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Birds were caroling all sorts of joyous tunes and the tree twigs were gaily dancing.

    A Modern Cinderella Amanda M. Douglas
  • But it is a cold night for caroling, and I hope you have been taken care of within.

  • Feelings and aspirations move like flocks of caroling songsters.

    A Man's Value to Society Newell Dwight Hillis
  • Somewhere in the woods behind them a robin was caroling with liquid harmony.

    Darkness and Dawn George Allan England
  • Then these songs, so wild, so caroling, so purely joyous—could Sappho sing more burningly of happiness and love?

    Faithful Margaret Annie Ashmore
  • "Say what you please," he cried, all but caroling in his joy.

    The Tigress Anne Warner
  • Bright-hued birds flashed through the foliage and thrilled the ear with their caroling.

  • It was like the sunshine and the caroling of birds and the smell of new-cut grass.

    The Deemster Hall Caine
  • A sorrowful quiet brooded over the garden that no longer echoed a caroling voice.

British Dictionary definitions for caroling


a joyful hymn or religious song, esp one (a Christmas carol) celebrating the birth of Christ
(archaic) an old English circular dance
verb -ols, -olling, -olled (US) -ols, -oling, -oled
(intransitive) to sing carols at Christmas
to sing (something) in a joyful manner
Derived Forms
caroler, caroller, noun
caroling, carolling, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for caroling

c.1300, verbal noun from carol (v.).


masc. proper name, from Medieval Latin Carolus (see Charles). As a fem. proper name, an abbreviation of Caroline. The masc. name never has been popular in U.S.; the fem. form was common after c.1900 and was a top-10 name for U.S. girls born 1936-1950.



c.1300, "joyful song," also "dance in a ring," from Old French carole "kind of dance in a ring, round dance accompanied by singers," perhaps from Medieval Latin choraula "a dance to the flute," from Latin choraules "flute-player," from Greek khoraules "flute player who accompanies the choral dance," from khoros "chorus" (see chorus) + aulein "to play the flute," from aulos "reed instrument" (see alveolus). The meaning "Christmas hymn of joy" is attested from c.1500.


c.1300, "to dance in a ring," from Old French caroler, from carole (see carol (n.)). As "to sing" from late 14c. Related: Caroled; caroling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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