Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HOBBLE, v., n.1 Also †hoble. Sc. usages. See also Habble and Hubble.

I. v. 1. tr. and intr. To rock, sway from side to side, to wobble, (to cause) to bob up and down (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 272; Rnf. c.1890; Bnff., Ags., m.Lth., Rxb. 1957). Now obs. in this sense in Eng. Edb. 1772  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 66:
Of a' the waters that can hobble A fishing yole or salmon coble.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 151:
They disdain now to ride on pads as of old, or to be hobled on a horse's hurdies.
Fif. 1812  W. Tennant Anster Fair 18:
With heads just peeping from their shrines of bag, Horribly hobbling round [in a sack-race].
ne.Sc. 1836  J. Grant Tales 62:
I saw a thing hobblin' i' the water — it had the shape o' a horse but the mane o't seem't to be made o' wee fiery serpents.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 79:
To shake with a quivering motion; as, . . . “The pig wiz jist hobblin' in 'ts ain fat.”
Abd. 1957  Scotsman (7 Sept.) 8:
They felt the earth “hobblin'” beneath them.

2. To shake with mirth (ne.Sc. 1957). Abd. p.1768  A. Ross Fortunate Shep. MS. III. 137:
Auld master leugh and hobled in his chair.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 79:
He leuch till he hobbled.
Abd. 1923  Banffshire Jnl. (10 April) 3:
As he said afterwards, “he hobbled an' leuch.”

3. To be alive or swarming with living creatures, esp. insects or vermin (Abd.7 1925; Bnff., Ags. 1957). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 79:
The pot (deep pool) wiz hobblin' wee salmon. The kebback wiz hobblin' wee mites.
Abd. 1953  Huntly Express (29 May):
There is, however, no sense in one farmer exterminating the rabbits if his neighbour's farm is hobbling with them.

4. To perplex, disquiet, put in a difficulty (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen. in ppl.adj. hobbled (Cai. 1957). Cai. 1907  County Cai. (Horne) 75:
A'm no muckle hobbled aboot 'id.
Sc.(E) 1913  H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xxxiii.:
Ye're fun' whyles blythe, whyles dowie; noo lown, than hobbled.

II. n. 1. A shaking, tossing, bouncing; a journey in a boat or vehicle which sways about. Kcd. 1820  E. Tevendale Misc. Poems 17:
For seven chiels to get a hobble Embarked in a sawmont coble.
wm.Sc. 1854  Laird of Logan 72:
He'll be for nicking his wizzen about losing his hobble hame.
Slg. 1862  D. Taylor Poems 52:
When I tak ye oot o't [a cradle], A hobble ye've to get.

Hence (1) hobble-bog, a quagmire (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 79; Mry.1 1925; Bnff., Abd. 1957); (2) hobble-quo, id. (Slk. 1825 Jam.); fig. a dilemma, a “scrape” (Ib.; Dmf.8 c.1920). See Quaw; (3) hobblie, adj., quaking under the feet (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 79). Comb. hobblie-bog, hobblyhoy = (1) (Bnff. 1887 Jam., -bog; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -hoy, Rxb. 1957).

2. Fig. A state of perplexity or confusion (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1957); a difficulty or predicament (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms 25, Uls.2 1929). Now dial. or colloq. in Eng. See also Habble. Ags. 1819  A. Balfour Campbell I. xiv.:
Will you, or will you no, help us out o' our present hobble?
ne.Sc. 1836  J. Grant Tales 191:
Lord help me, for I'm in a pretty hobble now whan ye've gotten the minister to back ye.
Fif. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xx.:
There was ane o' Simon's visits, hooever, that was the means o' leadin' me into a bonny hobble.
Rxb. 1875  N. Elliot Nellie Macpherson 103:
This is a bonnie hobble the best we can mak o't.
Sc. 1897  Stevenson St Ives x.:
Forbye that, he would be in raither a hobble himsel', if he was to gang hame wantin' Faa.
Abd. 1909  J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 238:
It's nae likely paid, for they say he's in a hobble o' debt.

3. A swarm or mass of living creatures, applied esp. to insects (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 78; Abd. 1957).

4. A confusion, a melee (‡Cai., Kcd. 1957). Slg. 1804  G. Galloway Luncarty 69:
Sometimes a fair, sometimes a bloody hobble.

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"Hobble v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Mar 2018 <>



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