[noo-uhl, nyoo-]
a central pillar or upright from which the steps of a winding stair radiate.
(on an escalator) the horizontal section of railing at the upper or lower end.

1325–75; earlier nuel, Middle English nowel < Middle French no(u)el kernel, newel < Late Latin *nucāle, noun use of neuter of nucālis of a nut, nutlike, equivalent to Latin nuc- (stem of nux) nut + -ālis -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
newel (ˈnjuːəl)
1.  the central pillar of a winding staircase, esp one that is made of stone
2.  See newel post
[C14: from Old French nouel knob, from Medieval Latin nōdellus, diminutive of nōdusnode]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

mid-14c., "pillar from which steps of a winding staircase radiate," from O.Fr. noel, novel "knob, newel, kernel, stone," from V.L. *nodellus "little knot," dim. of L. nodulus, dim. of nodus "knot." Or the O.Fr. word may be from Gallo-Romance *nucale, from L. nux "nut." The meaning "post at the top or
bottom of a staircase" is from 1833.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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