Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BIRL, v.2

1. To pour out liquor for drinking; to ply with drink. Sc. 1904  Brown Robin in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 97A vii.:
O she has birld her father's porter Wi strong beer an wi wine.
Lnk. 1922  T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 54:
But we used to birl the stoup and to blether by the lichts. vbl.n. birling, action of drawing or pouring out liquor. Given in N .E.D. as obs. except dial.
Bnff. 1853  The Drunkard's Progress in Bnffsh. Jnl. (23 Aug.):
And liberal grows the birling o't.

2. To carouse: often followed by prep. at. Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality v.:
Sitting there birling, at your poor uncle's cost.
Abd. 1746  W. Forbes The Dominie Deposed (1821) iii. xii.:
They birl'd fu fast at butter'd ale, To gie them ease.

Phr.: birl the brown bowl, to drink, carouse. Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality x.:
“And where are my comrades?” asked the centinel [sic]. “Birling the brown bowl wi' the fowler and the falconer, and some o' the serving folk.”

[O.Sc. birl, byrl, v. (c.1500), pour out for drinking, carouse. O.E. byrelian, O.North. birliga, from O.E. byrele, byrle, a cup-bearer, cogn. O.E. beran, to bear.]

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"Birl v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Dec 2018 <>



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