from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A game of skill, especially among lumberjacks, in which two competitors try to balance on a floating log while spinning it with their feet.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A drinking-match.
  • noun Same as birlin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb Present participle of birl.

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

  • noun rotating a log rapidly in the water (as a competitive sport)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • Contests were based on the ability to balance on a floating log and spinning it with one’s feet, while throwing off an opponent a skill known as birling, or logrolling.


  • The distance between the galley and the beach was so short as scarce to require the assistance of the eight sturdy rowers, in bonnets, short coats, and trews, whose efforts sent the boat to the little creek in which they usually landed, before one could have conceived that it had left the side of the birling.

    A Legend of Montrose

  • Have I never been in a birling in my life — never known the Sound of Mull, the Isles of

    Chronicles of the Canongate

  • So saying, he led the way out through halls and trances that were weel kend to my gudesire, and into the auld oak parlour; and there was as much singing of profane sangs, and birling of red wine, and speaking blasphemy and sculduddry, as had ever been in Redgauntlet Castle when it was at the blithest.


  • In some regions, birling contests were advertised as an annual attraction, and drew contestants out of the woods from surrounding states.


  • They were hanging on to each other with rather less determination than the sets of dancers birling in circles on the floor.

    The Distant Echo

  • "By the way, did you fellows ever square up on that birling match?"

    Americans All Stories of American Life of To-Day

  • Why was the sympathy of the crowd with Jimmy Powers in the birling match?

    Americans All Stories of American Life of To-Day

  • It was not the custom of the time, but her Grace had introduced into her Highland court the practice of withdrawing the ladies for some time after dinner, and leaving the men to their birling of the wine, as they phrased it.

    Doom Castle

  • "No," I disclaimed, "this is a better sight than a birling match."

    Americans All Stories of American Life of To-Day


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  • This word is kept alive by the Log Driver's Waltz song and NFB film.

    "For he goes birling down and down white water

    That's where the log driver learns to step lightly"

    January 26, 2017

  • A lumberjack proves he is sterling

    By showing he's skillful at birling.

    This so fills with thrills

    The sweet lumberjills

    They queue up in lines for a twirling.

    See also comments at birl.

    January 26, 2017