Definitions

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

  • n. A pack; a bundle.
  • n. A burden.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fourth part; a quarter.
  • n. a bundle or burden
  • v. To make up in fardels.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A bundle or little pack; hence, a burden.
  • transitive v. To make up in fardels.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A bundle or pack; a burden; hence, anything cumbersome or irksome.
  • To make up in packs or bundles.
  • n. A fourth part: an old law term.—

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

  • n. a burden (figuratively in the form of a bundle)

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, diminutive of farde, package, from Arabic farda, single piece, pack, bundle, from farada, to be separate; see prd in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
A corruption of Middle English ferthe del (literally "fourth part"), equivalent to fourth +‎ deal. Cognate with Dutch vierendeel ("a fourth part, quarter"), German Viertel ("a quarter, fourth"), Danish fjerdedel ("a quarter"), Swedish fjärdedel ("a fourth, quarter"). (Wiktionary)
From Middle English fardel, from Old French fardel ("pack, bundle"), from Spanish fardel, diminutive of fardo ("pack, bundle"), from Arabic  (fardah, "a package"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Harry Potter, Oscar Wilde's one-liners, Waking Ned Devine, the word fardel, the original BBC "The Office," and so on (notably, not the National Health Service, thankyouverymuch).

    folkbum's rambles and rants

  • a satisfactory "fardel" brought by Hymen's or any other express company before; and in opening the packages, reading the notes that came with them and exclaiming and admiring, time flew so fast that Rose quite forgot the hour, till little Rose, growing sleepy, reminded her of it by saying, --

    Clover

  • Why here have we the very impress of young Hamlet's soul -- 'To grunt and sweat beneath a weary life' -- feel you not there compunction and disgust, seeing in life no cleanly burden, but a 'fardel' truly, borne on the greasy shoulders of filthy slaves! "

    The Panchronicon

  • The manner of it was thus: there cometh in to her the laundress early as other times before she was wanted, and the Queen according to such a secret practice putteth on her the hood of the laundress, and so with the fardel of clothes and the muffler upon her face, passeth, out and entereth the boat to pass the

    The Abbot

  • Oliver, who produces with such happy complacence his fardel of small talk, and who, as he never doubts his own powers of affording amusement, passes them current with every pretty woman he approaches, and fills up the intervals of chat by his complete acquaintance with the exercise of the fan, the FLACON, and the other duties of the CAVALIERE SERVENTE.

    Redgauntlet

  • Then drops the soul her fardel, as the travel-tir'd

    Poems and Fragments

  • (“Works and Days,” 342.) or at least we should have our acquaintance and familiars to participate of our entertainments, mirth, and discourse over a glass of wine; but now, as ferry-men permit their passengers to bring in what fardel they please, so we permit others to fill our entertainments with any persons, let them be good companions or not.

    Symposiacs

  • Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel and box, which none must know but the king; and which he shall know within this hour, if I may come to the speech of him.

    The Winter’s Tale

  • I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old shepherd deliver the manner how he found it: whereupon, after a little amazedness, we were all commanded out of the chamber; only this methought I heard the shepherd say, he found the child.

    The Winter’s Tale

  • Well, let us to the king: there is that in this fardel will make him scratch his beard.

    The Winter’s Tale

Comments

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  • This word makes it difficult for me to take that line seriously.

    June 3, 2011

  • Indeed.

    February 13, 2008

  • "Who would fardels bear..."

    The bard at his best.

    February 13, 2008

  • Do tell...

    February 12, 2008

  • Nobody knows the fardels I've seen.

    February 12, 2008