Printable Version
Pronunciation: drawl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, Noun

Meaning: 1. To prolong the sounds of speech, to speak slowly by lengthening words. 2. To move slowly, to lag, drag out.

Notes: Used as a noun, this word refers to the process of speaking or moving slowly. Speakers in the US North accuse speakers with southern accents of drawling their speech in what is known as a Southern drawl. However, we all do it when we say, No-o-o! or So-o-o? We drawl the O in these words all the time. A person who drawls is a drawler with a drawl. When we do it we are drawling.

In Play: Despite the loss of southern dialects (see the language blog), slight traces of it still remain: "Tiffany Lampe fell in love with a boy from Atlanta, Georgia, but gave him up because she didn't want her children growing up speaking with a Southern drawl." Of course, not only Southerners drawl: "When Tiffany discovered that she had left her cell phone at home, she drawled in horror, 'O-o-h, no-o-o!'"

Word History: Today's word is something of a mystery. It might have been introduced by vagabonds' vernacular from Middle Dutch dralen, East Frisian draulen "to linger, delay", or Low German drauelen "to loiter, delay". We have evidence that such words exist or existed. On the other hand it could be an intensive form of the root of draw as in the sense of "draw out", as in Modern Icelandic dralla "to loiter". It might have been a native formation along the same lines, though we have no written evidence of such a development. The semantic and phonological relation to draw is hard to ignore, but just as hard to prove. (I shouldn't drawl out today's Good Word any longer, so I will express my gratitude to Chris Stewart for suggesting it now.)

Dr. Goodword,

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