What does “churlish” mean?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“Now the name of the man was Nabal; and the name of his wife Abigail: and she was a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance: but the man was churlish and evil in his doings; and he was of the house of Caleb” (1 Samuel 25:3).

The noun form appears twice in the canon of Scripture: “The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful…. The instruments also of the churl are evil: he deviseth wicked devices to destroy the poor with lying words, even when the needy speaketh right” (Isaiah 32:5,7).

Upon initial glance, we ascertain “churlish” is connected to wickedness. It is a negative character trait. Generally, it is someone who is mean-spirited, rude, or harsh. This would be Nabal, the opposite of his kind wife Abigail (read the context). In the Isaiah passage, the description is even more specific, carrying the meaning of a miser; it is a stingy person who resorts to deceitful or fraudulent methods to retain or gain wealth (read the context). “Churl” is from the Old Norse “karl” (“man”).

Also see:
» Who are “abjects?”
» Can you explain, “God save the king?”
» What does “pernicious” mean?