Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GUDDLE, v., n. Also †guddel.

I. v. 1. tr. To catch (fish) by groping with the hands under stones or the banks of a stream. Gen.Sc. Also (rare) to fish (a stream) by this method (see 1930 quot.). Also in Nhb. dial. Slk. 1818  Hogg Wool-gatherer (1874) 75:
I guddle them in aneath the stanes an' the braes.
Ayr. 1879  J. White Jottings 71:
Up the burn we paidled, guddling trout . . . with trousers and sleeves buckled up.
Hdg. 1887  Mod. Sc. Poets X. 337:
Guddlin' troots or stickin' beardies and wadin' every pool.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Bog-Myrtle ii. vi.:
He knew no more than how to bait a line and guddle trout.
Abd. 1921  T. L. Morrison Murmurings 56:
An' oot aneth a mossy stane some muckle troot he'd guddelt.
Ags. 1921  A. S. Neill Carroty Broon x.:
You lay over the bank and tried to guddle trout.
Sc. 1930  Wkly. Scotsman (31 May) 2:
I'll see the burnie pule by pule I guddled aft for troot.

Hence guddler, one who catches fish by this method (Cld. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Lnk. 1919  G. Rae 'Tween Clyde & Tweed 72:
I close my een, and a' is seen, The burn edge, and the guddler's play.
Dmb. 1948  Scots Mag. (Nov.) 120:
His particular friends were the trout that sauntered up and down the Kilpatrick burn, for he was an expert guddler.

2. intr. To grope (for fish, etc.) with the hands in water. Gen.Sc. Also fig. Slg. 1818  W. Muir Poems 11:
. . . in noddles Whar science sits, an' grapes an' guddles.
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xxi.:
Groping about or (as they say) guddling for these fish.
Ags. 1894  A. Reid Heatherland 77:
They guddel't in the burn awhile.
Edb. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
The way ye've seen the laddies guddlin for troot under the stanes.
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road xxii.:
He could get what fish he wanted now by guddling.
Dmf. 1921  J. L. Waugh Heroes 36:
If you had been as nimble wi' your rod as you are wi' your tongue you wadna hae needed to guddle.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 22:
There, widin' an' guddlin', time seen slippit by.
Abd. 1937  Evening Express (19 April) 7:
Guddling for coal at the harbour is hard but remunerative work.
wm.Sc. 1937  W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 28:
Poor Dauvit was the clachan fool Who in the Dudhope guddled.

3. To bore, prod, poke with some instrument: (1) to stab, hack. Slk. 1820  Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 219:
They guddled his loins, and they bored thro' his side.
Bwk. 1856  G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 54:
In a barrel of feathers they stappit his head, And guddled the body till he was dead.
Abd. 1865  G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xliii.:
And the anawtomy? . . . Ye haena been fa'in' asleep again ower the guddlet carcass o' an auld pauper?

(2) To poke about with the nose, to nuzzle, nose about. s.Sc. 1824  J. Telfer Border Ballads 68:
They [hounds] guddled and chackit about his flanks, Till tired of the ploy.

(3) To make a hole in the soil by driving in a pointed wooden or iron bar and moving it to and fro to enlarge the cavity (Bnff., Per. 1954). Cf. n. 1.

4. Fig. To be engaged in dirty, messy work (Edb., Upp. Cld. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1955), to work with the hands in water (Mry.1 1925), to puddle (Per. 1955); to work in a careless, slovenly way, to mess about (m. and s.Sc. 1955), “generally applied to household work; also applied to children playing in the gutters” (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Abd. 1954). Ppl.adjs. guddled, bemired, made muddy or dirty, puddled; in a state of confusion or disorder, rumpled, disarranged (Ags. 1955), guddlin, messy, muddling. Edb. 1822  R. Wilson Poems 21:
Wi' nowt an' sheep a' hash'd an' puddled; I think the farm is sairly guddled.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 29:
Lochs too are a' drained — wild-ducks hae nae wallees now to guddle in.
Ags. 1874  Kirriemuir Observer (6 Nov.) 4:
Atween the big blads o' rain an' ither henders we got, it was a dreich hairst till's, an' we were clean guddled wi'd.
Lnk. 1880  “G. Short” Clydesdale Readings 110:
They never get abune a meeserably hashy, nondescrip', guddlin' sort o' existence.
Ags. 1925 10 :
His claes were a' guddled up i' his drawer.
Gsw. 1950  H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 81:
Oh, Dad, surely the two of us can guddle along for one meal. The egg stuff'll be in the press there.

II. n. 1. A name given to a blunt knife (Kcb.4 1900); a crowbar (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn; Per.4, Fif.17 1954), a pointed iron bar for making holes for fencing poles (Kcd., Ags., Per. 1955). Cf. v. 3. (3).

2. Toilsome, dirty or messy work (Edb., Upp. Cld. 1825 Jam.; Ags., m.Lth., Gsw. 1955). Lnk. 1805  G. McIndoe Poems 147:
To count, his man and Tam were yoket, Ten hunder' thousand taties. Wi' neeves like grapes they to the guddle.
Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Rhymes 19:
'Tween pats, pans, trantlooms, and stools; Wark bodies are ne'er out the guddle, Frae their cradles till laid in the mools.
Gsw. 1873  A. G. Murdoch Lilts 38:
But, air or late, wi' women folks, The guddle's never dune.
Ayr. 1928 4 :
A big family's an awfu guddle.

3. A mess, muddle, confusion (m. and s.Sc. 1955); one who works in a careless, slovenly way (m.Lth. 1955). Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
If my sin didna find me oot, my faither wad be sure to do sae, an' that wad be even waur than makin' a guddle o' the “reasons annexed.”
Edb. 1917  T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxi. 20:
But lat ony fule get in amang't an' he'll mak a waesome guddle o't in a jiffie.
s.Ayr. 1951  :
I'm just in a guddle; the weather has been against me, and I can't get ahead with things in the proper order.

[Imit., after such words as puddle, muddle, etc., phs. with influence from Gutter, v.1]

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"Guddle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Dec 2018 <>



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