marl [mɑrl] n.
1.) A kind of soil consisting principally of clay mixed with carbonate of lime, forming a loose unconsolidated mass, valuable as a fertilizer.
2.) "Burning marl": used symbolically, after Milton, for the torments of Hell.
3.) Poetical. Used generically (like clay) for: Earth (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).
Etymology: adoption of Old French marle (still in dialects; replaced in modern French by the variant marne), from late Latin margila (whence Old High German mergil; Middle High German, modern German, and Dutch mergel; Danish mergel; Swedish märgel), diminutive of Latin marga (whence Italian and Spanish marga), said by Pliny to be a Gaulish word. It does not, however, occur in the modern Celtic languages: the alleged Breton marg does not correspond phonetically; the Breton merl is from French, and the Welsh marl and Irish and Gaelic marla are from English.
" Leonato: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.
Beatrice: Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a pierce of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred" (Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare, 1600).
(Beatrice, Frank Dicksee, 1888)