Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DOTTLE, adj., v.2, n.2 Also †dotle.

1. adj. In a state of dotage (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. Wilson); crazy, witless. Sc. 1820  A. Sutherland St Kathleen III. 162:
“Hoot, ye dottle man,” returned his wife in an audible whisper, “dinna be scaldin' like a tinkler.”
Sc. 1871  in J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude) I. 381:
Dottle Helen had finished her ladyhood at Dublin.
Ags. 1889  J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums xix.:
Did I no tell ye? I'm ga'en dottle, I think.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xv.:
An' there they sat, an' there they drank, Till baith o' them were dottle.
em.Sc. 1896  (a) (2nd ed.) “I. Maclaren” Kate Carnegie 353:
He's been an awfu' handfu' tae me, an' noo a' coont him clean dottle.
Kcb. 1894  S. R. Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet xvi.:
Joiners are a' dottle stupid bodies.

Comb.: dottle-headed, feeble-minded. Sc. 1924  R. W. Campbell Spud Tamson out West ii.:
She made Jock fetch an' carry like a dottle-headed wean.

2. v.

(1) intr. To be or fall into a state of dotage, to be or become crazy, witless (Cai.9 1949; Mry., Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940; Ags. 1949 (per Abd.27)). Cf. Doitel. Abd. 1845  P. Still Cottar's Sunday 165:
It's gien me pain to think That Scotlan' was dotlin'.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xli.:
Keep's an' guide's, Dawvid, ye're dottlin' a' thegither.
Abd. 1916  G. Abel Wylins 26:
For Jinse, 'at keepit hoose, wis aul', Had dottlin' been for lang.

(2) tr. To make crazy or confused (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940). Bnff. 1869  W. Knight Auld Yule 171:
It turns the brichtest chiels tae sots, An' dottles wit an' lear.
Abd. 1824  G. Smith Douglas, etc. 91:
[Love] Rins through their foggy heads, dottles and dazes, Gie's them the skaith and the scorn outo'er.

(3) Ppl.adj. dottled, -et, -it, stupid, confused, witless, gen. applied to those whose mental faculties are impaired by age (Sc. 1818 Sawers Dict. Sc. Lang.; Cai.9 1949; n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2, -it; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Slg.3, Fif.10 1940). Also in s.Lin. dial. Sh. 1886  “G. Temple” Britta 178:
“Janet's getting dottled,” one of my elders said to me.
ne.Sc. a.1835  J. Grant Tales (1836) 31:
Preserve me, laddie! is't you? I am seerly dotled.
Abd. 1928  Abd. Press and Jnl. (8 Nov.) 6/3:
Bit the aul' boddy wis growin' gey frail an' dottlet, an' she cudna min' on him ava.
Ayr. 1891  H. Johnston Kilmallie ii.:
Jamie was rather “dottled,” according to his wife's account.

3. n. A dotard, a person weak in the intellect. Fif. 1894  J. Menzies Our Town 85:
So this is the explanation o' your veesits to the auld dottle.
Edb. 1895  J. Tweeddale Moff 205:
Johnnie's but a dottle and nae yise ava tae ony capable wumman.

[From Eng. dote, + suff. -le. ]

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"Dottle adj., v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Dec 2018 <>



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