English speakers borrowed the word noel from French. It can be traced further back to the Latin word natalis, which can mean "birthday" as a noun or "of or relating to birth" as an adjective. (The English adjective natal has the same meaning and is also an offspring of natalis.) Noels were being sung in Latin or French for centuries before English-speakers started using the word to refer to Christmas carols in the 18th century. An early use of noel (spelled nowell) to mean "Christmas" can be found in the text of the late 14th-century Arthurian legend Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.