Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HAGGLE, v., n.1 Also haig(g)le, haigel, hagle, haghel, hagil, haggel; hechle, heckle. [Sc. hɑgl, s.Sc. hegl]

I. v. 1. tr. To cut unevenly, to hack or mangle (I. and m.Sc. 1956). Found in Eng. from end 16th c. and in various Eng. dials. but now appar. commoner in Sc. Also used fig. = to bungle (a piece of work), to make a muddle of anything (Fif. 1825 Jam.). Ppl.adjs. hagglet, mangled, bungled; jagged, with an uneven edge; also harrassed, muddled; hagglin', rash, incautious. Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie ciii.:
I hae nae broo o' doctors; . . . though they may learn at the College to haggle aff a sair leg.
Ags. 1824  Literary Olio (20 March) 88:
A bonny haggel't job they're like to mak o't.
Fif. 1825  Jam.:
A hagglin' gomrel.
Sc. 1831  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1856) III. 146:
That beak noo cuttin like a knife, noo clippin like shissors, noo chirtin like pinchers, noo hagglin like a cleaver!
Gsw. 1863  J. Young Ingle Nook 92:
As weel attempt to split a hair Wi' gar'ner Johnnie's hagglet gully.
Sc. 1886  Stevenson Kidnapped xxv.:
It would go against my heart to haggle a man that can blow the pipes as you can.
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Raiders xiv.:
I see thee, little loch. Thou art clear this morning. Thou art red at even, and there is a pile of haggled heads by thee.
ne.Sc. 1953  Abd. Press & Jnl. (4 Nov.):
“Geordie” is perfect in timing and unless you take your sheaf away before he lands his next one you are “haggled.”

Hence hagglie, rough, unevenly cut (Cld. 1825 Jam.).

2. intr. To advance with difficulty, to struggle forward laboriously, plod on (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, haigle; Ayr., Rxb. 1956); to hesitate, stumble, lit. and fig. Also used tr. = to carry with difficulty something cumbersome or awkward (Bwk., Rxb. 1825 Jam., haigle; e.Lth. 1924 I. Adair Glowerower 71, 73, heckle, hechle; Rxb., Slk. 1956). Sc. 1731  R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 223:
When examined by the Synod as to his willingness to receive his wife, he hagled in his answers.
Sc. 1756  M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 149:
Like a lady from the country, . . . with her elbows into her sides, her two hands streight out before her, holding the fan out likeways, as if she was to red her way by it, and hagheling, as if she thought all her pitecots were coming off.
Dmf. 1871  in J. W. Carlyle Letters (Froude) II. 36:
A Third Edition got done . . . Printing haggles forward till October.
Slk. 1875  Border Treasury (24 April) 443:
We haiglt 'im on wi' us sae ferr, but at the lang an' last we had obleegd to leave 'im.
Bwk. 1876  W. Brockie Confessional 178:
I see nae use for wives ava; Ane's ain burden's eneuch to carry, What sairs a puir man haiglin twa?
Rxb. 1925  E. C. Smith Mang Howes 19:
A haiggle on alang streets chowky wui cluds o shairny stoor.
Bwk. 1948  per
I've haigled her [a baby] a' roond the toon.
Abd. 1955  Huntly Express (28 Oct.):
There is a deal of truth in what a farm servant said to me six years ago: “If they gie's the same security as the Prime Minister we would haggle awa' wi' the tied hooses.”

Hence haggly, adj., hesitant, stumbling, lacking fluency. Dmf. 1866  Carlyle Reminisc. (1881) II. 204:
I . . . got a great instruction and lesson, which has stayed with me, out of his little speech itself . . . speech of the most haggly, hawky, pinched and meagre kind, so far as utterance and “eloquence” went.

II. n. 1. An uneven cut, a hack (Slg., Ayr. 1956). Also fig. = a botch, a bungle, a tangle (Ags., Ayr. 1956); cf. Aggle, id.; hence applied to a person who has no method and is always in a muddle (Abd.4 1929). Ork. 1929  Marw.:
To make a haggle o' the job.

2. A struggle, a laborious effort; “a fatiguing walk, owing to a burden, distance, etc.” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., haigle; Slk. 1956). Dmf. 1866  Carlyle New Letters (1904) II. 240:
I finished Reeves' two Books after a sore haggle and tussle.

3. A straggling disorderly procession. Ags. 1930  “A. Kennedy” Orra Boughs 86:
The man who caught a haggle o' bairns — me the last o' them — just inside the big door, late for school on a Monday morning.

[Sense 1. of v., n. is a freq. form of Hag, v.1 The other senses may be extensions of meaning or of uncertain orig. Cf. Hauchle, Haingle and Hag, v.2, v.3]

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"Haggle v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Mar 2018 <>



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