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

  • noun The casting and registering of votes in an election.
  • noun The number of votes cast or recorded.
  • noun The places where votes are cast and registered during an election, considered as a group.
  • noun A place where votes are cast and registered.
  • noun A survey of the public or of a sample of public opinion to acquire information.
  • noun The head, especially the top of the head where hair grows.
  • noun The blunt or broad end of a tool such as a hammer or ax.
  • intransitive verb To receive (a given number of votes).
  • intransitive verb To receive or record the votes of.
  • intransitive verb To cast (a vote or ballot).
  • intransitive verb To question in a survey; canvass.
  • intransitive verb To cut off or trim (hair, horns, or wool, for example); clip.
  • intransitive verb To trim or cut off the hair, wool, branches, or horns of.
  • intransitive verb To vote at the polls in an election.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A student at Cambridge University in England who merely takes a degree, but receives no honors; one who is not a candidate for honors.
  • To remove the top or head of; hence, to cut off the tops of; lop; clip; also, to cut off the hair of; also, to cut, as hair; shear; cut closely; mow; also, to remove the horns of, as cattle: as, to poll tares, hair, wool, or grass.
  • In law, to cut even without indenting, as a deed executed by one party. See deed poll, under deed.
  • To rob; plunder; despoil, as by excessive taxation.
  • To enumerate one by one; enroll in a list or register, as for the purpose of levying a polltax.
  • To pay, as a personal tax.
  • To canvass or ascertain the opinion of.
  • To receive at the polls: as, A polled only 50 votes; also, to cast at the polls: as, a large vote was polled.
  • To vote at the polls; bring to the polls.
  • To vote at a poll; record a vote, as an elector.
  • noun A parrot: also called poll-parrot and polly.
  • noun The head, or the rounded back part of the head, of a person; also, by extension, the head of an animal.
  • noun Hence A person, an individual enumerated in a list.
  • noun An enumeration or register of heads or persons, as for the imposition of a poll-tax, or the list or roll of those who have voted at an election.
  • noun The voting or registering of votes at an election, or the place where the votes are taken: in the United States used chiefly in the plural: as, to go to the poll; the polls will close at four.
  • noun A poll-tax.
  • noun The broad end or butt of a hammer.
  • noun The chub or cheven, Leuciscus cephalus. Also called pollard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To vote at an election.
  • transitive verb To remove the poll or head of; hence, to remove the top or end of; to clip; to lop; to shear
  • transitive verb To cut off; to remove by clipping, shearing, etc.; to mow or crop; -- sometimes with off
  • transitive verb obsolete To extort from; to plunder; to strip.
  • transitive verb obsolete To impose a tax upon.
  • transitive verb To pay as one's personal tax.
  • transitive verb To enter, as polls or persons, in a list or register; to enroll, esp. for purposes of taxation; to enumerate one by one.
  • transitive verb To register or deposit, as a vote; to elicit or call forth, as votes or voters.
  • transitive verb (Law) To cut or shave smooth or even; to cut in a straight line without indentation. See Dee� poll.
  • transitive verb to call upon each member of the jury to answer individually as to his concurrence in a verdict which has been rendered.
  • noun Cambridge Univ., Eng. One who does not try for honors, but is content to take a degree merely; a passman.
  • noun A parrot; -- familiarly so called.
  • noun The head; the back part of the head.
  • noun A number or aggregate of heads; a list or register of heads or individuals.
  • noun Specifically, the register of the names of electors who may vote in an election.
  • noun The casting or recording of the votes of registered electors.
  • noun The place where the votes are cast or recorded.


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

[Middle English pol, head, from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English pol, polle ("head, hair of the head, list"; > Anglo-Norman poll ("list")), from Middle Low German pol, poll ("head") or Middle Dutch pol, pōle, polle ("head, top"), both from Proto-Germanic *pullaz (“round object, head, top”), from Proto-Indo-European *bolno-, *bōwl- (“orb, round object, bubble”), from Proto-Indo-European *bew- (“to blow, swell”). Akin to Scots pow ("head, crown, skalp, skull"), Eastern Frisian pol ("round, full, brimming"), Low German polle ("head, tree-top, bulb"), Danish puld ("crown of a hat"), Swedish dialectal pull ("head"). Meaning "collection of votes" is first recorded 1625, from notion of "counting heads".

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek  (polloi, "the many, the masses")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Perhaps a shortening of Polly, a common name for pet parrots.


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  • "hair" meaning:

    the doctor, as if to hear the better, had taken off his powdered wig and sat there looking very strange indeed with his own close-cropped black poll.
    Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1883), ch. 6

    February 10, 2019