Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PATTLE, n., v. Also patl, pattel (Jak.); pettle, petal (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 78), pittle (Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 8), pitle (Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 114). [pɑtl, pɛtl]

I. n. An implement with a spatulate blade, usually carried on a plough for clearing the mould-board of soil, a plough-staff (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1905 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. 125; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Cai., ‡Bnff., Abd., Ayr., Uls. 1965). Also plough-pattle, pleugh-pettle, id. (Ayr. 1785 Burns Earnest Cry xv.), and deriv. pettler, n., one who wields a pattle, the ploughman's boy (Arg.3 1952). Abd. 1711  W. Meston Poet. Wks. (1802) 155:
Meantime a Ploughman, with a Pattle, Engag'd the Captain close in battle.
Abd. 1739  Caled. Mag. (1788) 501:
A huddrin hynd came wi' his pattle, As he'd been at the pleugh.
Mry. 1761  Aberdeen Mag. (March) 153:
With the pattle (a piece of furniture belonging to the plough) he gave him a violent blow on the head.
Kcd. 1768  in A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 6:
The devil pay them with a pettle, That slight the North.
Ayr. 1786  Burns To a Mouse i.:
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee, Wi' murd'ring pattle!
Sc. 1820  Scott Monastery xi.:
If he liked a book ill, he liked a plough or a pattle worse.
Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Rhymes 31:
Ilka heuk, and auld pleugh pettle, They've gather'd up the country round.
Knr. 1891  H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 49:
Plooin' — hae ye ever been Beyont the pettle?
Abd. 1928  Abd. Press & Jnl. (15 Nov.) 6:
An aul' man wis tellin 'ma' at the aul' fowk ca'd the haimmer on a ploo the pattle.

Combs.: (1) pattle shaft, the wooden handle of the pattle (Sh. 1965); (2) pattle-tree, (i) = (1) (Ork. 1814 J. Shirreff Agric. Ork. 52; Sh. 1965). Hence a nickname for a ploughman (Ork. 1965); (ii) a notched wooden stick for removing a hook from a fish's throat (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), patl-, pattel-, padl-, paddel-). See Tree. (1) Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xv.:
Nae the vera pattle shafts but wus broken, an' the harness grey an' green for want o' cleanin'.
(2) (i) Ork. 1868  D. Gorrie Orkneys 298:
The ploughman . . . using a pattle-tree to clear away clods, or hasten the pace of his refractory team.
Ork. 1911  J. Omond 80 Years Ago 19:
There was a pattel tree stuck into a hole in the block, which served either as an extra stilt or was used to strike the horses or the boy leading them as required.

II. v. 1. intr. (1) To poke or dabble idly in some substance (Ork., w.Sc. 1880 Jam.; I.Sc. 1965). Phr. to patl wi' (awa upo') de ayre, to row (a boat) in a relaxed, easy-going way, to pull gently on the oars (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). See Assiepattle, n. Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 121:
Sheu could no spaek, bit like a deuk Lay quarran, pattlan like a fleuk That pattles i a ebbed pow.
Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
To patl or sit patlin i' de aess.

(2) to toddle as a young child, to move with small rapid steps (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), to patl aboot; Ork. 1965). Ork. 1929  Marw.:
A peerie pattlan bit o'bairn.

2. tr. (1) To tread or trample down (the ground) (Ork. 1965). Cf. Patter.

(2) with out: to remove (the hook) from a fish's throat by means of a pattle-tree. See n., (2) (ii). Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
To patl ut de nokki.

[O.Sc. patyl, a ploughstaff, a.1400, patil, to scrape with a hoe, 1553, appar. an irreg. variant form of Eng. paddle, with sim. usages. The ulterior origin of both is difficult to trace, but prob. goes back to, or is at least cognate with, Lat. spatula, a small flat implement, Gr., a flat sword, and Eng. spade.]

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"Pattle n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Oct 2018 <>



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