Printable Version
Pronunciation: ril Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A rivulet, a very small brook. 2. A narrow, shallow channel on the surface of soil or a rock made by running water. 3. An alternate (mis)spelling of rille "fissure or narrow channel on the moon's surface."

Notes: Here is a lovely little word that isn't used nearly enough. It is clearly related to rivulet, for a condensed form of this word, rillet, is still alive and well in some parts of the English-speaking world. Rill also may be used as a verb meaning "trickle, flow in a tiny stream".

In Play: Rill usually refers to a very small stream of water: "April Showers loved riparian picnics beside the rill that bubbled along into the river." The verbal use of today's word may be used with anything that flows: "The music from the piano rilled most pleasantly throughout the house."

Word History: Today's Good Word has cousins in several Germanic languages, such as Dutch ril "crease, trench; stream" and German Rille "groove, furrow". It evolved from Proto-Germanic ril-, a diminutive of PIE root rei- "to run, flow." We see remnants of this word in Latin rivus "stream" and its diminutive, rivulus "small stream", Russian and Serbian reka "river", Croatian rijeka "river" (and the city Rijeka), Albanian rilloj "rill", Irish rith "to run". Speaking of which English run was rinnan in Old English from the same PIE word plus the suffix -n. That explains runnel "rivulet, rill, trickle", earlier rindle. This form is still in use in Scotland and northern English dialects. Let's not forget English river and rival, borrowed from Latin rivalis "a rival, neighbor", originally "of the same stream", from rivus "stream". (Another lovely Good Word from the vocabulary of Floridian George Kovac, wordmaster and dynamic force in the Agora.)

Dr. Goodword,

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