Puzzler's Corner

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for June 23, 2018 is:

skirl • \SKERL\  • verb

1 of a bagpipe : to emit the high shrill tone of the chanter; also : to give forth music

2 : to play (music) on the bagpipe


"Then the Dropkick Murphys victory song skirled over the PA and the player pile was on, followed by the Red Sox team rushing the left field fence and flipping over it, reminiscent of Torii Hunter's vain try for a David Ortiz homer during the 2013 playoffs." — Jack Shea, The Martha's Vineyard Times, 23 June 2014

"On a crisp spring morning in West Roxbury, several honor guards stood at rigid attention outside Holy Name Church as scores of bagpipes skirled." — Eric Moscowitz, The Boston Globe, 4 Apr. 2014

Did you know?

Not every musical instrument is honored with its very own verb. But then, not every musical instrument emits a sound that quite matches that of a bagpipe. Depending on your ear, you might think bagpipes "give forth music," or you might be more apt to say they "shriek." If you are of the latter opinion, your thinking aligns with the earliest sense of skirl—"to shriek." That early sense was used of screeching maids, winds, and the like. Scottish poet Robert Sempill first used it for bagpipes in the mid-1600s. The meaning of skirl has shifted over time, however, and these days you can use the verb without causing offense to bagpipers and bagpipe enthusiasts.

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