Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KILMAURS, n. A small town in Ayrshire, near Kilmarnock, used attrib. in phrs.: 1. as sharp or gleg as a Kilmaurs whittle, quick in the uptake, quick-witted (Ayr. 1960). Kilmaurs was noted for cutlery in the 18th c. See Whittle; 2. Kilmaurs kail, see Kail; 3. Kilmaurs measure, good, ample measure (Ayr. 1960). [kɪl′m:rz] 1. Ayr. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 IX. 371:
A man of acute understanding and quickness in action is said to be as sharp as a Kilmaurs whittle. Footnote: — “My friends, we have had great deal of fine English ware among us the day, but aiblins, my Kilmaurs whittle will cut as sharply as ony English blade;” meaning that the language of his own country would be better understood, and do more good.
Ayr. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 V. 771:
The Ayrshire proverb, “As gleg as a Kilmaurs whittle,” which cut, it was said, an inch before the point.

[O.Sc. has Kilmares knife, 1697.]

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"Kilmaurs n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Mar 2019 <>



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