Printable Version
Pronunciation: trol Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To fish by pulling a line through the water. 2. To try to lure or incite someone by passing something where they can see it. 3. (Obsolete) To sing in the manner of a round or simply merrily.

Notes: We have reduced the 14 meanings of today's Good Word found in the Oxford English Dictionary to the three central ones you see here. Most of this word's meanings are obsolete, like No. 3 above and, as you can see from the three we selected, they are quite disparate in meanings.

In Play: About the only time you will hear the third meaning of this word is when we are singing the Christmas carol, Deck the Halls:

"Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol
Fa la la la la la la la la."

Otherwise, you will hear it used in its second meaning: "Hackers troll the Internet looking for computers they can crack."

Word History: Today's Good Word's origin is as mysterious as the disparity of its meanings. It can be traced back only as far as two Old French words, troller "to go hunting" and trôler "to meander, wander about". The latter sense may have been borrowed from Germanic trollen "to roll", but then disappeared from most dialects. The French troller today was borrowed back from English and means "to spam". You can see how the senses of the French words might be related to the first two meanings of today's word, but where the third meaning came from is anybody's guess. The verb has no relation to the noun troll, which was borrowed from Norwegian. (Let us all troll a melody of Yuletide thanksgiving to Peggy Nielsen for suggesting this elderly member of the English vocabulary for today's Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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