Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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EEL, n.1 Sc. usages. Also ell, il (Sh.).

1. In combs.: (1) eel-ark, an eel-trap; see also Ark, n.1, 3; (2) eel-beds, the water crowfoot, Ranunculus aquatilis; “also extended to several species of pond weeds, prob. from a supposition that they harbour eels” (Rxb. 1886 B. & H. 165); also found in Nhb. dial.; †(3) eel-drooner, -drowner, lit. one who can drown an eel, i.e. perform the impossible; hence, an exceedingly clever fellow, used ironically and gen. with neg. (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B.); (4) eel pot, the Sandy Ray, Raja circularis (ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 277); (5) eeltow, a line laid inshore for catching eels for bait (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh.10 1949, obs.); (6) eel-ware, Ranunculus fluitans (Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 26); (7) eve-eel, evil-, see Haivel; (8) guffer eel, see Guffer; (9) hairy eel, the hair worm, Gordius auqaticus (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 161); (10) haivel eel, see Haivel; (11) nine-ee'd eel, the lesser lamprey, Petromyzon fluviatilis (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna ofDee” 282); (12) ramper eel, see Ramper. (1) Ags. 1942 17 :
The eel-ark was common in ancient Angus, and still exists. I know of one in Balmadies now.
(3) Rxb. 1825  Jam.2:
Atweel, he's nae eel-drowner mair than me.
Abd. a.1879  W. Forsyth Sel. from Writings (1882) 25:
O wha but you the heuk cu'd bait, An' a' to get mair room to steer — Sen' these eeldrooners o'er the gate To brak the tent comman'ment here?
(11) Sc. 1811  P. Neill in Mem. Wernerian Nat. Hist. Soc. I. 555:
The popular name Nine-eyed-eel arises from the spiracles being taken for eyes. Lesser Lamprey, . . . abundant in the rivers Leith, Almond, and Esk.

2. A stripe, esp. a stripe along the back of a horse (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), eel, ell, il); hence (1) eel-backit, “a term applied to a horse of a light colour, that has a black line on his back from the mane to the tail” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (2) eel-stripit, id. (Kcb.10 1943). (1) Sc. 1741  Caled. Mercury (26 Nov.):
A Dun Galloway, 13 Hands high, Eel-backed, Black-headed.

[O.Sc. has ele, eill, etc., an eel, from 1375; ele ark, from 1541; eill bakit, 1593. For sense 2 cf. O.N. áll, Norw. aal, a coloured stripe along the back of a horse, confused with áll, aal, an eel.]

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"Eel n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Dec 2018 <>



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