A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)
Spil(l, Spyl(l, v. Also: spille, spyl(l)e, spel. P.t. and p.p. also spe(i)lt. [ME and e.m.E. spille(n (c1175), spil (Cursor M.), spylle (a1400), spyl (c1425), OE spillan, MDu., MLG spillen, ON spilla.] There is some overlap with Spuilȝe v.
I. 1. tr. To kill or slay (a person or animal), to put to death. Also in contrast with save (Sav(e v. 4 a), spare (Spar(e v. 1). Also ellipt. and absol. Also absol. in collocation with spede (Sped(e v. 4 a).
(1) He ves for his gilt Be manis sicht sa foul spilt; Leg. S. xl 986.
To vndo this bairn or him to spill For the goddis may mak airis at thair will; Hay Alex. 185.
It is wrang, that for the faderis gilt The saikles sone sall pvneist be and spilt; Henr. Fab. 2664 (Bann.).
To wemen ȝeit we do bot litill ill Na ȝong childir we lik for to spill; Wall. v 1032.
Mony galt mony gilt Come let the pig to be spilt; Colk. Sow i 179.
Lycus … Quham Turnus … With speir in hand persewys forto spill; Doug. ix ix 75.
Now lat my lady do quhat evir scho will, … Small honor is hir scherwand for to spill; Scott xvii 24.
(2) Thow may me saif, thow may me spill, Baith lyfe and deide, lyis in thy will; G. Ball. 170.
Do … as sho that may alone My persone saiv or spill To grant me lyf or kill All lyes into ȝour will; Montg. Misc. P. xxxiv 33.
ellipt. I may do of thé my will, To leif or die, to spare or spill; Alex. ii 10392.
It suld beyn at his will, Quhat plessyt him, to sauff thi king or spill; Wall. xi 1378.
absol. To thé do I adres myself who both dois cuir and kill, And potent is als well to hail as thow ar bent to spill; Fowler I 291/4.
(3) absol. He put him in his [sc. the King's] will To hang or heid, or speid or spill; Wynt. vii 98 (W).
b. reflex. To kill oneself, commit suicide.
He … oft-tyme wes in to wil Hyme-self in-to the flud to spil; Leg. S. xxix 435.
Reddy to de and my selvyn to spill, My sweit gest quhamto thou me leif will? Doug. iv vi 83.
Nor ȝit by natural ded peryschit sche, Bot … Befor hir day had hir self spilt; Doug. iv xii 107.
Heregust … went to his quiet chalmer … and with violent handis spilt him self; Boece 222b.
Thisbe, quhilk spilt hir self for luif of Pyramus; Rolland Ct. Venus iii 39.
In wrape tha woes … And stint in tyme to spill thy self but plaint … Thow may not duire with sorrow thus attent; Maitl. Q. 203/66.
2. To bring (a person, oneself) to misery or ruin.
He was red he should him spill; Sir Eger 604.
reflex. Quhen man for his gylt Brekand my byding hym-self spilt, To succoure hyme I be-com man; Leg. S. xxix 148.
Lat be to vex me, or thy self to spyll; Doug. iv vi 159.
b. To destroy or ruin (a person's soul).
My saule ma nocht thu spil … For Crist sal kepyt at it wrocht; Leg. S. xxviii 368.
3. To deprive (a woman) of her chastity against her will, to rape (a woman).
Scho … sad, that he agane hir will Hyre difforsit, & sa can spill; Leg. S. xi 350.
Both wiffis, wedowis, thai tuk all at thair will, Nonnys, madyns, quham thai likit to spill; Wall. i 164.
b. reflex. Of a woman: To allow herself to be degraded through adultery or fornication.
Certis, vnreulyt ware my wil Gyf for thé my-self I suld spil; Leg. S. xxx 108.
c. To spoil morally, to stain, tarnish or abuse (a person's character, his or her qualities, etc.) through behaviour perceived as sinful or wrong; also reflex. to spoil (oneself) by over-indulgence. d. Of a thing: To upset or ‘disagree with’ (a person's temperament).
c. O fair Creisseid … Thy womanheid, thy wisdome and fairnes The quhilk fortoun hes put to sic distres … and nathing throw the gilt of thé, throw wickit langage to be spilt; Henr. Test. Cress. 91.
It stant apone thi will For to amend thi puple, or to spill; Or have thi court of vertewis folk, or fullis; Lanc. 1988.
Think ȝe my womanheid to spill? … Na God forbid it wer greit syn; My Lord and ȝe wes neir of kyn; Lynd. Meldrum 964.
Is that ȝour will, … my womanheid to spill: With ane lipper? Rolland Seven S. 5950.
Maroco, to corrupt or spill; Despauter (1617) 107.
reflex. Verily, we know not what an evil it is to spill and indulge ourselves, and to make an idol of our will; 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 207.
d. [The Chancellor … has advertised the King that nothing] spillis [the Queen but Edinburgh]; 1595 Cal. Sc. P. XI 689.
4. To spoil or destroy (something) by a deliberate or accidental action; to damage, ruin or render useless through misuse, carelessness, etc.; to pollute or soil. Also, once, const. of what is spoiled. Also with non-personal subject and in passive.
The Makeson Genesis quot. in (1) p.t. (b) may be erron.
(1) pres. Gude governaunce that stent him nocht to spill thy treis na gader thy fruytis, that is to say thy subjectis gudis wrangwisly; Hay II 164/1.
How durst thow … to fyle this bruke … with thy fowll, slauering? … To hurt my drink and this fair watter spill [OUP fyle]; Henr. Fab. 2636 (Bann.).
The temporall land thai spoulȝeit at thair will, Gud gardens gay, and orchartis gret thai spill; Wall. viii 740.
Outlandis folkis … lauborand and usand ther craft … passand fra house to house mendand and spilland nychbouris werk and stuf; 1489 (1527–8) Reg. Great S. 120/1.
The Grekis occupyis haly—al is tharis, Quhat so thame lyst tospil is nane that sparis; Doug. ii viii 124.
Gif … the myllaris ony way to spill ony stuf that thai grynde of the saidis baxteris … the fermoraris to pay the samyn to the baxteris that beis hourt; 1522–3 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 209.
Gyf ony fremaister of the said craft … brekis ony manys stuf vnordourly, or womanis, and spillis the samyne in his defalt of werkmanshype [etc.]; 1531 Edinb. B. Rec. II 54.
1556 Peebles B. Rec. I 236.
Ȝe suld be myne & thairin laid And we durst spill the lairdis bed … Q scho I sall mak it agane; Bann. MS 143b/9.
It wer better verraly Ane steding for till laubour weill … That in proces … It micht bring forth to help the rest, Nor for till spill all ten atanis; 1573 Davidson in Sat. P. xlii 741.
1584 Burntisland B. Ct. 5 May.
Gif ony millar … spill ony quheit or flowre in the grynding thairof; 1596 St. A. Baxter Bks. 57.
1620 Broxmouth & Pincarton Baron Ct. 4 May.
Na occupiar of the saidis craftis sall receive or tak ane uther occupiar's wark out of his boothe except he spille the samen; 1633 Aberd. Trades 204.
He that spills his workmanship to any, sall repay the samyne upon his awne expence and sall pay to the trade fourtie shilling; 1656 J. L. Hilson Border "Burrow" of Barony 6.
All such young boyes … that sall be found … goeing amongst mens pease spyleing and tacking away aither the pease or the straw [etc.]; 1677 Rec. Old Aberd. I 130.
p.t. Tre wark thai brynt that was in to tha wanys; Wallis brak doun that stalwart war off stanys; Spylt at thai mycht syne wald no langar bid; Wall. v 1137.
Til … ij pure wyfis at the King spilt thare corne, xviij s.; 1488 Treas. Acc. I 94.
Joke Moffat sal pay … James Champany v s. for spylling his sek [MS stok] and haldin his hors thre dais and raid to Edinburgh aganes the said James vyll and spylt hyme thar; 1532 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 122.
They to exact fra … the walkeris that spilleit the cloathe throw thair negligence and unskilfulnes sick penalties, [etc.]; 1631 Lanark B. Rec. 127.
Thomas Moses, walker, … affirmit that the websteres in Pebles spilt and stoll his work; 1653 Peebles B. Rec. II 10.
(b) The Palestyns him buir at syk invy That thai speilt [appar. sic altered in MS f. ceillit = sealed] al the vattyr of his vellis; Makeson Genesis (ed.) 16/145.
p.p. (1) He trymblit for raddoure And sare fortocht that he had spilit the toure; Hay Alex. 4123.
Johne Abraham that … hes brokin downe distroyt and spilt ane wall; 1570 Inverness Rec. I 186.
William Tomson the brebnar hes split and destroyt to me xiij elnis hewit clayth quhilk I gaiff him to wirk; 1572–3 Inverness Rec. I 224.
He vnderstude thame to set thair myndes vpon the ludgeng of S. Egidius quhilk the hæreticks had afor visited and spilt; Dalr. II 421/16.
(2) [He refused to pay the wages of Reche Gowan, his servant, because] he had been spilling of malt in the making sen Witsunday, and had [also] spilled a safull [pr. fafull] of wort; 15… Old Dundee II 232.
(3) A schip … brekis out of hir festnyng Ane vthir schip cumis and strikis hir and he is hurt of the strak and spillis the gudis; Ship Laws c. 13 (H2).
[They] sperit quhy his gret covatis Had spilt thair iowell [sc. a mirror] on sic a wys; Seven S. 1820.
Quhen he is deid or tynt thai tyne faith & jugement in sic maner at thai brek thair hunny & spillis thair hivys; Loutfut MS 25a.
This foull tyke … To spill our bed that is … Couerit with clais sa clene … With his foull feit cum new furth of the myre; Rolland Seven S. 4369.
[The victual was green laid in, long kept and] thairthrow a grite parte spylt; 1562 Thirds of Benefices 135.
Hyr styrk … gnew and spylt his tartan quhilk wes worth fyf merkis; 1567–8 Inverness Rec. I 159.
Young plantis … quhilkis ar all eittin, destroit and spilt be the sweyne; 1578 Inverness Rec. I 261.
Vntimous spurring spilles the stead; Montg. Ch. & Slae 397 (Wr.).
The cariage of tapistrie … weiris and spillis the samen; 1595 Skene in Misc. Stair Soc. I 146.
proverb. A drop of sute will spil a potful of bruse; Carmichael Prov. No. 55.
A tuird will spil a potful of bruse; Carmichael Prov. No. 210.
(4) Of thyng reft … He resayvit it or ellys the valw of it gyf it be peryst or spylt in his kepyng; Burgh Laws c. 94 (B).
At Corssentoun the gait was spilt that bide; For thi that way behowid thaim for to tide; Wall. iii 81.
3 sekis of forest woll. Sald 2 sekis of tham … the thrid sek was il spylt in the schip and forpakit; 1495 Halyb. 21.
That the … fermoraris caus to mak and graith the … mylne sufficientlie at all pointis swa that the quheit that beis ground efter the … malt be na way spilt thairthrow; 1522–3 (c1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I 209.
Be ane wete hervist, all the corne … was corruptit and spilt; Boece 529b.
Ane key ȝe sall into the buirdclaith knit, Quhilk at ȝour belt dois hing … Than sall ȝe rise with ane faird haistelie … Than sall ȝe all the meit and tabill doun cast. On this fassoun all ȝour meit salbe spilt With displesure, and all ȝour naiprie gilt; Rolland Seven S. 4501.
The tabill turnit, and all the meit doun flang Allace scho said … I sair repent, that I sa schortlie rais The meit is spilt, and fylit ar all clais; Rolland Seven S. 4532.
Make advertisment that nane [sc. artillery] be spilt or dekay throw lak of mending or laubouris to be takin thairupoun; 1561 Reg. Privy S. V i 211/2.
To Andro Alexander, messinger, to support him to ane hors spilt and tint in his grace service; 1569 Treas. Acc. XII 174.
Marioun Luif to … pay to Jonet Turnebull xxs money … for the skaith and dampnage sustenit be the said Jonet of ane brewing aill spilt be the said Marioun in hir defalt and negligence in harvest lastbipast; 1569 Canongate Ct. Bk. 56.
The provest [etc.] … ordanis Androw Stevinsoun thesaurer … to cawse mend the vtter dur of the scolehous and clois thairof with sic vther thingis as ar spiltt in the said maisteris negligence; 1579–80 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 151.
Gif the geir be spilt be leik, quhairof the skipper nor his company hes na wyitt … he sall pay the skipper his hail fraucht; 1602 Conv. Burghs II 140.
Spelt; 1603 Paisley B. Rec. 257.
1635 Dumbarton B. Rec. 47 (see Spil(l)ing vbl. n. (1)).
Spyled; 1650 Lorimer St. Cuthbert's 109.
Ewry … master of ewry myln … sal tack speaciall care of the cornes … that it be not speilt or hunied cornes; 1671 Forbes Baron Ct. 287.
Their last refuge was to offer to prove … that the victual offered was spilt with the sea water; 1677 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. III 176.
proverb. Better bellie burst nor gude meit spilt; Carmichael Prov. No. 363.
b. specif. Of a disease: To have a detrimental effect on (the blood).
The gout, the grauell, leprosie Withall that spilles the blood; James VI Poems I 168/1028.
c. With personal or non-personal subject: To spoil (something non-material), to hinder, mar or ruin (an action, ability, occasion, purpose, etc.). Also in collocation with other verbs.
(1) The kynge of hewyne … sa hale set his entent … that othir worthit we do his will, or halely my purpus spill, Or thole torment-gret and tell; Leg. S. iii 923.
He tuke his cod and haistaly Kest at the chais and spilt [F. le jeu depeçoie] the play; Alex. ii 3917.
Ane unkyndely hete that … destroyis the vertu of the mete in the stomak, that hynderis the nature, and spillis degestioun; Hay II 139/23.
Lechory distroyes the bodi … spillis the sicht [etc.]; Myll Spect. 273/28.
He that dois all his best servyis May spill it all … Be fowll inoportunitie; Dunb. (STS) xv 22.
Haist thé away, Thow art our perte to spill the proces of our play; Lynd. Sat. 1955.
Man I gaif thé nocht fre will, That thow suld my Gospell spill; G. Ball. 134.
Thow … did cast thy self away, And thy posteritie spill; G. Ball. 158.
And ye caus me to goe … with you, I will spill the whole mater for and they accuse me of my conscience I cannot but confes the treuth; 1571 Bann. Trans. 167.
All lang words hes ane syllabe in them sa verie lang, as the lenth thairof eatis vp in the pronouncing euin the vther syllabes, quhilks are placit lang in the same word, and thairfore spillis the flowing of that lyne; James VI Poems I 71/3.
Thow … dang the said Kathren Mitchell, becaus scho spillit your dans, and ran nocht sa fast about as the rest; 1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 97.
Euen they themselues the ordor partlie spils, With bringing in of heapes of bosome bils; Hume 74/191.
1615 Highland P. III 208 (see 6 below).
If a man change the accent, he sall spill the sound of the word; Hume Orthog. 22.
The complaint … agains James Gray, wobster, for spilling and wrang working of ane small linning wob, in casting round hardin yearine in the midis thairof, … quhilk spillis the pryce of the wob. Quhilk complaint hard … thai all … declairit the samin to be unsufficient work, and that the same will hurt the pryce of the wob; 1616 Glasgow Weavers 54.
A light manner of speaking in serious things, often spills the beauty of them, marrs edification, and diminisheth from the weight of the matters themselves; Durham Clavis Cantici 292.
1680 Cloud of Witnesses 26.
proverb. Mony spils a feast for fault of good chear; Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1049.
(2) passive That stat and that honowre War noucht spylt; Wynt. v 1331.
In the haldin of courtis of querra [pr. guerra] to the grete hereschip and skath of our souerain lordis liegis and of his awin hienes in his justice aris quhilkis ar spylt be the said querra courtis; 1475 Acts II 112/2.
Hys ornate goldyn versis … I spittit for dispyte to se swa spilt With sych a wyght; Doug. i Prol. 150.
This realme is liklie to forfair Throw ȝour grit necgligence That … tholis it be spilt Throw ȝour grit sleuth and gilt; Maitland in Maitl. F. 309/8.
My Lord Bourgley is most temperat of all the counselours. If it be not spilt be sic … who lovis not the quene your majesties mother, we hoype yit weil of it; 1586–7 Rait & Cameron King James's Secret 171.
This benefice [is] evil spilt be ane forcit pensiowne taine from it be my Lord of Orknay; c1607–15 Goudie Shetl. Antiq. 156.
His argument is but spilt, and the nerves cut from it; Rutherford Lex Rex (1644) 42.
The several pieces of a holy walk, are in a manner but spilt, when not rightly ordered; Durham Clavis Cantici 381.
[Being transported to Ireland] these books will do no hurt in this country, for I saw the sale of them spilt this last night; 1684 Hay Fleming Six Saints I 127.
proverb. Ane gud taill ewill tald is spilt in the telling; Maitl. F. 161/63.
(3) My wan wyt preswmptwus … A matere gud suld blok or spylle; Wynt. vii Prol. 21.
Thai twrne thi jugment, And spill and perwert thi resone; Ratis R. 773.
The feble hert cassyn in wariance spillis & tynis in schort space all that it dois; Porteous Noblenes 184/1 (Asl.).
Jhon Ker is kepit soliter, … it dullis and spyllis his ingyn, that he is the mair unable to do guid service; 1544–5 Hamilton P. II 554.
Tha wald tyne waichtie materis … outher throuch thair absense, or lang tarieng, close tyne or al spil; Dalr. II 395/19.
The knowlege off the mater, & the devulgating off the dealing, may spill and hinder all good success; 1599 Mackie Denmilne MSS 8.
Ye can die but once, and if ye mar or spill that business, ye cannot come back to mend that piece of work again; 1632 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 75.
My Lord Jesus will not mar nor spill my sufferings; 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 456.
My Lord Jesus hath not miscooked or spilled this sweet cross; 1637 Rutherford Lett. (1894) 515.
d. To waste time, etc.
Quhairfoir sowld I my ȝowtheid spill Pynnand my self doand away pleseir … Thairfoir in to my ȝeiris grene and ȝing I will to craif and tak that I may gett; Bann. MS 54a/61.
Ȝe schal si farder by the instructions, bot … heuue dun ȝourself and al our frindes ne letle honour and gud in … schauin ȝour forduartnes and obediens to my. Y wil nocht spel tym in wourdes, bot Y think me so far adet to ȝou that [etc.]; 1568 Argyll Fam. Lett. 11.
5. intr. a. Of people: To die, perish; fail; come to ruin.
Thu … That warldly gud has in hald, … & tholis Godis servand [is] spyll & de fore cauld & hungyre gret; Leg. S. xvi 274.
Scho the Cristyne treutht brocht til mony, at in poynt ware to spil; Leg. S. xvii 6.
Gyf that ȝe lat ȝour bodyis spill, That now may sauf ȝow; Troy-bk. i 183.
Salve ws … that we ne spill Levyngis of Grekis and of the fers Achill; Doug. iii ii 39.
For puir pitie of hir in poynt to spill … in Scotland than come he … For to releis that ladie of distres; Stewart 53623.
How many are my fathers house withine Of hyred seruandes, that hes bread at will, And I his sonne, for falt is like to spill; Norvell Meroure 28b.
Thow michtie makar of all thing … Quhan we wald spill thow gart ws speid; Bann. MS I p. 19/31.
proverb. Of proud persons … He spils unspoken to; Ferg. Prov. No. 448.
b. Of things, chiefly food: To rot, spoil, deteriorate.
Gyf it [sc. seed] gadderit wes il, He skalit it, ore it suld spil; Leg. S. xl 206.
His courtlie cloke … Thriftles, threidbair, and reddy for to spill; K. Hart 503.
The said schiref haldis the saidis cornis under arreistment upoun the ground rottand and spilland; 1548 Antiq. Aberd. & B. III 359.
That the tymmer of the frater of the said abbay, quhilk consumis and spillis … be tane doun; 1574–5 Reg. Privy C. II 432.
Importaris of this victuall … had suche a quantitie thairof lyand vpoun thair hand, and readdie to spill; 1624 Melrose P. 562.
He had about thrie hundred sex pennie loaves … which wer likly to spill upon his hands; 1685 Edinb. B. Rec. XI 144.
c. Of something non-material: To perish, be lost or destroyed.
It is gret prudence … Oft tyl ourese thi gud and gouernance That thow may hafe in freche remembrance Gef thar be ocht in perel for to spyle; Bernardus 45.
The lordis thocht rycht mekill ill, Seand the realme in sic ane poynt to spill; Stewart 36394.
Ȝe had done wrang … Hir to withald agane hir will; Bot … quhill trew tryall be sene Sho moste be keipit or all will spill; 1567 Sat. P. v 48.
My minschit meitir may bot mank and spill; J. Stewart 48/16.
I awow … Till recognose thy fauor and guidwill Vith humyll seruice suir at thy command, And neuir sall my part ingraitlie spill; J. Stewart 203 § 14.
proverb. He that speikis mekle sum pairte mon spill; Bann. MS 81b/36.
Quod dreid, ‘schir, tak heid schir, Lang speiking part will spill’; Montg. Ch. & Slae 908 (W).
Meikle spoken, part mon spill; Ferg. Prov. No. 621.
Manie irnes in the fyre some mon spil; Carmichael Prov. No. 1118.
II. 6. tr. To cause (blood) (of a person, etc.) to be shed. a. lit. b. To kill or slay.
a., b. Thow lefft to spylle sakles blud Off swa gret a multitwde Off innocentys; Wynt. v 2825.
Spyl; Wynt. v 3692 (C).
He gert sla men but mercy, And spylt gret blude habounddandly; Wynt. vi 1494 (C).
Full mony off our [sc. birds'] kin he hes gart de And thocht it bot ane sport to spill thair blude; Henr. Fab. 1816.
Wallace men … Off Yrage blud full hardely thai spill With feyll fechtyn maid sloppys throuch the thrang; Wall. vii 842.
Help ws Lord, vpon this erde That thair be spilt na blude heir in; Peblis to Play 128.
All men be of gude will … Think tyme to ceis Scottis blude to spill; Maitland in Maitl. F. 324/19.
Knox II 355.
The Lord hes placed … Agilitie into the blude, quhilk spilt the bodie sterfs; Hume 19/80.
Wickitt Iesabill … Eleas blod scho snair to spill; Montg. Suppl. xxxiii 34.
Gif you go fordwart at this tyme you sall spill the haill eirand and thair wilbe mekle blood spilt; 1615 Highland P. III 208.
Una nec interea spillata est droppa cruoris; Polemo-Mid. 166.
Others … Who have no law to their ambitions will, But … born are humane blood to spill; Drummond Wks. (1711) 37/1.
c. intr. Of blood: To flow from a wound.
Ȝe committit mis Quhilk causis me richt sair aganis my will, Of ȝour wilde blude sa mekill to se spill; Rolland Seven S. 4628.
7. tr. To cause (liquid) to run out of its container accidentally or deliberately, to empty (a container) of liquid. Chiefly in passive without agent.
Some examples in 4 above may belong here.
active [He] tuk furth a caldronn that wes full of drink & spilt the drink about the wiffis luggis; 1520 Alloway Baron Ct. 15 Jan.
Katherine McCartnay to pay to William Hendersoun Parks half ane stane buttir pryce xiij s. iiij d. for ane kirne with milk scho spilt to him; 1580 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. I 108.
passive The merchandis sais thair wynis ar distrublit and spilt in the maistiris defalt; Ship Laws c. 12 (H2).
[They] sall … paye … for … a kyrne full of mylk spilt & brokin iij s.; 1478–9 Acta Aud. 82/1.
A fontane … quhair gret drapis of oyle perpetuallie sa spring vpe. … Is said that quhen it first sprang to have beine spilte out of S. Catharines oyle, quhen thair the pig quhairin it was, negligentlie was brokne; Dalr. I 23/31.
It boadeth good luck for folks to have drink spilt on them; Durham Commandments (1675) 112, 113.
fig. Haill, God and man, borne of a virgin cleyne, Haill, boist of balme, spilit within my splene; Kennedy Pass. Christ 7.
b. intr. Of liquid: To spill, to run out of its container, to be wasted in this manner.
Gif the schip men say the cordis ar gude & the wyn spillis the schip mene aw for to part the scath done a mang thaim self that aw the wyn; Ship Laws c. 10 (A).
Ship Laws c. 28 (B).
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