Definitions

from The American HeritageĀ® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A crumbly mixture of clays, calcium and magnesium carbonates, and remnants of shells that is sometimes found under desert sands and used as fertilizer for lime-deficient soils.
  • transitive v. To fertilize with such a mixture.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixed earthy substance, consisting of carbonate of lime, clay, and possibly sand, in very variable proportions, and accordingly designated as calcareous, clayey, or sandy.
  • v. To cover, as part of a rope, with marline, marking a peculiar hitch at each turn to prevent unwinding.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mixed earthy substance, consisting of carbonate of lime, clay, and sand, in very variable proportions, and accordingly designated as calcareous, clayey, or sandy. See greensand.
  • transitive v. To cover, as part of a rope, with marline, marking a pecular hitch at each turn to prevent unwinding.
  • transitive v. To overspread or manure with marl.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To overspread or manure with marl.
  • Nautical, to wind, as a rope, with marline, spun-yarn, twine, or other small stuff, every turn being secured by a sort of hitch: a common method of fastening strips of canvas called parceling, to prevent chafing.
  • To ravel, as silk.
  • To wonder; marvel.
  • See the quotation.
  • n. A mixture of clay with carbonate of lime, the latter being present in considerable quantity, forming a mass which is not consolidated, but falls to pieces readily on exposure to the air.
  • n. The fiber of those peacock-feathers which have the webs long and decomposed, so that the barbs stand apart, as if raveled: used for making artificial flies.
  • n. Marble.
  • n. A marble (plaything).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a loose and crumbling earthy deposit consisting mainly of calcite or dolomite; used as a fertilizer for soils deficient in lime

Etymologies

Middle English marle, from Old French, from Medieval Latin margila, marla, diminutive of Latin marga, marl, of Celtic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French marle from Late Latin marglia, diminutive of margaĀ ("marl"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • From "C. Musonius Rufus" by Guy Davenport

    January 19, 2010

  • Citation on burh.

    August 30, 2008

  • Near King, Wisconsin there is a chain of lakes, many of which have marl bottoms. The white color of the marl makes the lakes appear to be a beautiful turquoise color. My favorite of the chain of lakes is tiny gemlike Marl Lake, a round brooch of bluish-green surrounded by tall pines. It is located in the Whispering Pines area of Hartman Creek State Park.

    January 27, 2008

  • Many different meanings listed in the OED, but the one I'm most familiar with is the crushed oyster shells laid down as a kind of loose paving for footpaths. One of the interesting features of this practice is the visibility of the paths at night--the calcium carbonate is white and reflects moonlight well.

    February 7, 2007