Noel you sing or listen to carols, this word is probably very familiar. It is to me – some of my best childhood memories are of singing carols with a choir at Christmas.

Noel is often used as a refrain in carols and on Christmas cards. It means ‘Christmas’. A noel is a Christmas carol.

Its origin is early 19th century, from the French Noël. Noël is based on the Latin word natalis meaning ‘birthday’.

Joyeux Noel is sometimes used by English speakers to wish others a happy or merry Christmas. If you are writing to a French speaker, remember to use Noël.

You may have seen the spelling Nowell or Nowel. Nowell is the Middle English spelling of Noel. It’s now regarded as archaic and is rarely used. However, it is common for the carol ‘The First Nowell’ to be spelt using the original form (you can read more on why here).

If you use Spotify, here’s the carol with its famous refrain:

This is my last post for a week or so. I’ll still be contactable should you have any proofreading-related emergencies.

I wish you a very merry Christmas.


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