Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PIRN, n.1, v. Also pirne, pyrn, pirrin; purn; pirm(e) (I.Sc.).

I. n. 1. A weaver's spool for holding his weft yarn in the shuttle, orig. one made from a quill or hollow reed, in later times one turned from wood or metal with an axial bore for mounting on a spindle for winding, a bobbin (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. 1923–26 Wilson; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 35). Gen.Sc. Dim. pirnie, -y, purnie, id. Deriv. pirner, a craftsman-turner who makes pirns (Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) P. 39); a worker in the weaving industry, gen. a woman or a child, who loaded the weaver's pirns with the yarn from the spinning-jenny. Also dim. form purnie, id. (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 262). Cf. 2. (16). Ork. 1718  MS. Inventory, Eday:
Item, ane Swirok and two pirmes having gray worsit on them.
Sc. 1788  Scots Mag. (Feb.) 100:
These machines . . . will require the attendance only of a boy, to dress the web, take up the broken threads, and renew the pirns in the shuttles.
Edb. 1819  J. Thomson Poems 37:
Threescore o' bobbins, ten o' pirns An auld blunt ax for hackin' birns.
Lnk. 1831  W. Patrick Plants 82:
The stalks [of the common reed] were formerly used for making weaver's pirns.
Ags. 1887  J. McBain Arbroath 123:
Then there were the wives, the long-suffering winders of the warp to the warehouse and pirners to the weavers.
Kcb. 1899  Crockett Kit Kennedy xxv.:
A load of birchwood to be transformed into “bobbins” and “pirns”.
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 157:
Girzzie . . . took da whaarles aff o' da flicht an' pat a foo pirm apo' da sweerie pin.
Rnf. 1925  A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 19:
His pirns of weft, each colour by itself stored in little pigeon holes in a box.
Mry. 1936  I. Cameron Street of Spinners vii.:
He sat making pirns for the weaver folk.

Combs. and phrs.: (1) pirn box, the container for a weaver's reels of yarn. In 1885 quot. used jocularly of an unwieldy boat. Cf. (3), (5), (7) and (8) below; (2) pirn cadger, a person, gen. a child, employed in a weaving shop to load the pirns and do odd jobs for the weavers. See also Cadger; (3) pirn-ca(u)p, a wooden bowl for holding bobbins (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. (1), (5), (7) and (8); (4) pirn cage, see quot.; (5) pirn creel, = (1). See also Creel; (6) pirn-filler, see (21) below; (7) pirn-girnel, = (1) (Fif. 1903 E.D.D.). See Girnel; (8) pirn-hat, an old hat used as a container for bobbins. Cf. (1), (3), (5) and (7); (9) pirn-house, a weaving shed or shop; (10) pirn(ie)-man, a weaver; (11) pirn-mill, a mill where weaver's bobbins are made, a turning-mill (Ags., Per. 1966); (12) pirrin-pin, the spindle of a bobbin; (13) pirn-stick, the spindle on which a weaver's bobbins were held on the loom (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Hence used fig. of very thin stick-like legs. Phr. like death on a pirn-stick, of persons: having a miserable emaciated appearance, “like death warmed up” (Fif. 1958); (14) pirn(ie)-taes, purn(y)-, n.pl., turned-in toes, hen-toes, s.v. Hen, 1. (26). Hence pirn(ie)-taed, -tae't, in-toed (Mry., Bch. 1921 T.S.D.C.; Sh. (pirm), ne. and em.Sc.(a) 1966). Cf. reel-taed, id., with substitution of pirn for Reel; (15) pirn-threed, severe diarrhoea (Abd.10 1920); (16) pirn-turner, a maker of pirns. Cf. pirner, pirnie, id. under 1.; (17) pirn-wheel, a wheel for winding yarn on to bobbins, a bobbin-wheel (Ayr. 1951). Also in reduced form pirney; (18) pirn-winder, see (27); (19) pirn-wife, a woman who loads a weaver's pirns with yarn; (20) pirn winnel, a winder from which bobbins are filled (Rnf. 1760 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 155). See Winnle and (17); (21) to ca the pirn, to wind a bobbin; fig. of speech: to hold forth, talk at length; (22) to fill a pirn, to wind yarn on to a weaver's bobbin (Ags. 1966). Hence pirn-filler, one who performs this operation; ¶(23) to play a bonny pirn, to play a prank. An erroneous extension of (24) below; (24) to ravel one's (another's) pirns, fig., to cause oneself (someone) trouble, get oneself (another) into a mess. Hence a ravelled pirn, a confused or complicated matter, a tangle, predicament, a “fix” (Bnff. 1966); (25) to redd a(n) ill (ravelled) pirn, to straighten out a tangled skein of yarn. Hence fig., to extricate oneself from an awkward or tricky situation, to sort out a difficult matter (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. (28) below; (26) to reel a pirn, to wind yarn on to a bobbin. See (22). Hence fig., to reel another's pirn, to do another's work for him; (27) to spin a muckle pirn frae a wee tait o' tow, to make a great deal out of a small matter, gen. of speech, to spin a long story; (28) to wind a pirn, = (22). Hence pirn-winder, -winner, the person who loads a weaver's bobbins with yarn, pirn-winding, the act of occupation of doing this. Also fig., as in phrs.: to hae a bonny (ill) pirn to wind, to wind onesel into a (bonnie, fine, etc.) pirn (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 127; Abd. 1925), to wind another a (bonny, ill, etc.) pirn (to reel), to create difficulties for oneself or another (Sc. 1825 Jam.); to wind one's rhyming pirn, to compose poetry, to wind up one's pirn, to make an end, have done; (29) to work the pirn, to go about things in an underhand way, to manoeuvre matters for one's own ends (Fif. 1966). (1) Ags. 1878  J. S. Neish Reminisc. Brechin 68:
On his head he wore a hat which had parted with its brim no one knew when, and which had probably done duty as a “pirn box” to some industrious weaver before Sandie became its possessor.
Ayr. 1885  J. Meikle Yachting Yarns 14:
The auld pirn-box can sail, tae, if she gets the wind onything abaft the beam.
(2) Fif. 1830  A. Stewart Dunfermline (1889) 8:
The hosts of little children called pirn cadgers, going “a tentie errand” to some neighbour's shop.
(4) Uls. 1880  Patterson Gl.:
Pirn cage, an arrangement of pins standing up from a square frame, in which “pirns” or bobbins are stuck — used in power-loom factories.
(5) Ags. 1858  People's Jnl. (23 Jan.) 2:
I'll rather pop the pirn creel, Nor want your journal.
(8) Fif. 1830  A. Stewart Dunfermline (1889) 8:
Carrying in an old “pirn hat” the supplies to keep the looms going.
Per. 1881  D. MacAra Crieff 160:
An auld rickle o' a thing that oor Jean keeps at the fireside tae keep pirn-hats on.
(9) Gsw. 1869  E. Johnston Poems 129:
But noo nae mair in oor pirnhouse Ye'll hunt the rats, nor catch a moose.
(10) Per. 1836  J. Shearer Antiq. Strathearn (1881) 63:
[He] asked the beggar what he thought of that [a clock] in a pirnie man's house? that is in the house of a weaver.
(11) Ags. 1938  :
Spanning the West Water near Edzell is a wooden footbridge known as the Pirners' Bridge, so-called either because bobbin-makers crossed it to get birch-timber in the adjacent copse to make their pirns, or because a pirn-mill once stood near it.
Ags. 1966  , local rhyme:
Johnie Hardie, Butterie Scone, Haud the cuddy or I get on. Haud it steady, haud it still Or I get by the pirnie-mill.
(12) Bnff. 1950  N. Paterson Behold Thy Daughter i. iv. (1):
“Thirza?” Katie said, speaking above the click and birr of her pirrin-pin.
(13) Gsw. 1843  Children in Trades Report (2) i. 3:
Some men beat their boys more than others, with a “pin-stick” [sic] as thick as his small finger.
wm.Sc. 1854  Laird of Logan 81:
Legs liker twa German flutes than the limbs o' a human being; ye surely dinna depend on yon twa pirn-sticks carrying you to your grave!
Ags. 1864  W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxv.:
My legs that were ance fat an' plump as my cheeks, Alas! they're like pirn-sticks buskit in breeks.
(14) Abd. 1914  G. Greig Folk-Song cxliv. 2:
Fin I wis a little wee pirn-tae't loonie.
Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 28:
Wi' bow-hoch't legs an' pirn taes.
Ags. 1962  D. Phillips Lichty Nichts 39:
He wuz affy splay-futted; funny enough, the rest wir inclined t' be purny-taed.
(16) Rnf. 1925  A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 15:
The pirn-turner in Ralston Square . . . using his foot lathe, soon turned us out a top.
(17) Rnf. 1760  W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) I. 155:
Two Pirn Wheels. Two Pirn Winnels.
Ags. 1776  C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 5:
The auld goodwife the pirney reels Wi' tenty hand.
Kcd. 1777  Caled. Mercury (1 Feb.):
The whole Utensils . . . consisting of 24 looms and their furniture, a large parcel of pirn-wheels, reeds, shafts.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 208:
I hae nae tocher but my loom, a pirn wheel, . . . two eerocks new begun to lay.
Ags. 1887  J. McBain Arbroath 125:
The pirn wheel is about as extinct as the hand-looms.
Per. 1895  A. Philip Longforgan 274:
The employment of the villagers was mostly agricultural, weaving, and the spinning and pirn wheel.
Ags. 1920  D. H. Edwards Muirside 25:
The pirn wheel was to be seen at work in every weaver's home.
(19) Gsw. 1869  E. Johnston Poems 132:
Oor pirn wife's gane awa'.
(21) wm.Sc. 1836  Scottish Annual 180:
It was the better o' ten minutes before he could begin to ca' the pirn o' his discourse.
Lnk. 1890  H. Muir Rutherglen 67:
There's nae pirns ca'd noo for shuttles to toom.
(22) Ags. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 II. 510:
In this manufacturing country, such as are able to go about and beg, are generally fit, unless they have infant children, to earn their bread at home, the women by spinning, and the men by filling pirns, (rolling up yarn upon lake reeds, cut in small pieces for the shuttle).
Ayr. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 V. 137:
There are besides in the parish . . . 37 pirn-fillers.
Dmf. 1891  J. Brown Sanquhar 356:
A host of women, who were called “pirn-fillers”, were employed in winding the yarn on to “pirns”.
Ags. 1895  Sc. Home Industries 163:
The winding of the bobbins (“fillin' the pirns,” it is called in Kirriemuir) is now done by old women who are now no longer able to work at the loom. This used to be the duty of the weavers' wives, or of boys and girls. It was not an uncommon thing for a woman to rock the cradle and “fill” her husband's “pirns” at the same time.
Ags. 1946  D. Twitter Tales 3:
My mither filled purns at Don's afore she wiz merrit.
(23) Bwk. 1856  G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 56:
And troth, they play'd a bonny pirn On decent Nelly Shaw, They chang'd her woo' to clatts o' shern.
(24) Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 164:
Ye're now ane o' my hopefu'st bairns; Tho' ance ye ravell'd sair my pirns.
Bwk. 1875  Minstrelsy of Merse (Crockett 1893) 181:
Life at the best's a ravell'd pirn, With patience let's unwind it.
Sc. 1893  Stevenson Catriona xxiii.:
I shall have a fine ravelled pirn to unwind.
(25) Abd. 1790  A. Shirrefs Poems 52:
Ance lat a hissy get you in the girn, Ere you get loose, ye'll redd a ravell'd pirn.
Ags. 1818  in G. Hay Round O (1883) 240:
And that he might na ridd this pirn-ill, She hid him in the stipend girnal.
(26) Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 189:
Faith, Chiel, ye's no for naething gang Gin ye man reel my pirny.
Rnf. 1807  R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 14:
Here Jeanie, waefu, sits an reels her pirn.
(27) Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xxii.:
“Heard ye ever the like o' that, Laird?” said Saddletree to Dumbiedikes, when the counsel had ended his speech. “There's a chield can spin a muckle pirn out of a wee tait of tow!”
(28) Sc. 1718  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 79:
Ise wind ye a Pirn, To reel some Day.
Bnff. 1734  W. Cramond Ch. Boyndie (1886) 19:
If he was not allowed to compear but for one Lord's day, . . . he should wind the Session ane ill pirn as he phrased it.
Sc. 1765  Caled. Mercury (10 July) 325:
Several Boys and Girls to serve as wooll-spinners, wooll-pickers, and pirn-winders.
Dmf. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 VI. 457:
5 weavers are employed, 2 draw boys, and a pirn winner.
Ayr. 1808  J. Duncan Weaving 284:
Machines have . . . been lately constructed for winding a number of pirns at the same time.
Sc. 1817  Scott Rob Roy xxiii.:
Spinners! — ye'll spin and wind yoursell a bonny pirn.
Gsw. 1836  Justiciary Reports (1838) 17:
Christian Wright, pirn-winder, residing in Buchanan's Land, Green Street of Calton.
Edb. 1839  W. McDowall Poems 213:
That wi't, I'll do my best or warst, To wind my rythming [sic] pirn.
Bnff. 1847  A. Cumming Tales (1896) 42:
Sarah, in the words of her husband, “had wein'd hersel' into a bonny pirn.”
Sc. 1858  D. Webster Scotch Haggis 161:
I'll just wind up my pirn, and hae done with a remark or sae.
w.Sc. 1880  Jam.:
A person in difficulty is said to have “a bonnie pirn to won”.
Per. 1895  A. Philip Longforgan 276:
A good canny pirn-winder . . . Her average wage from pirn-winding was not more than two shillings a week.
Sh. 1898  J. Burgess Tang 162:
I'll wind dee a pirm yet.
Lnk. 1922  T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 61:
He'll wind us a' a pirn afore he's dune.

2. The amount of yarn that can be wound on a pirn, a pirnful (Mry., Slk. 1966). Sc. 1710  T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
The Women and Weavers call a small parcel of yarn put on a broach, (as they name it,) or as much as is put into the shuttle at once, a pyrn.
Sc. 1808  Jam.:
A certain quantity of yarn, ready for the shuttle, is said to consist of so many pirns.
Per. 1857  Harp Per. (Ford 1893) 157:
The gudewife reavilt a' her yarn, She tint the thread-end o' her pirn.
Fif. 1894  J. Menzies Our Town 20:
All through the long days . . . to have troubles with brittle yarn and tangled “pirns”.

3. A small bobbin used to hold sewing cotton or the like, a reel of cotton (Rxb. 1820 N.E.D.; Sc. 1880 Jam.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 179). Gen.Sc., obsol. Lth. 1856  M. Oliphant Lilliesleaf xxiii.:
Throwing down the seam upon my little table, after a fashion that scattered my pirns of thread down upon the carpet.
Abd. 1868  G. Macdonald R. Falconer i. xiii.:
A half-finished reel of cotton — a pirn, he called it.
Abd. 1909  J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 249:
Gie me three yairds o' that, an' gweed measure; . . . an' ye forgot to gie me a pirn tae my claith.
Ork. 1923  P. Ork. A. Soc. 67:
One year several Chinese kites were flown. . . . A “purm” of thread was quite strong enough to hold them.
Lth. 1925  C. P. Slater Marget Pow 36:
I didna buy anything in Rome mysel' except a pirn of cotton, No. 30 white.
Gall. 1928  Gallovidian Annual 27:
“Get yer mither anither pirn oot o' the press,” said her father diplomatically.
Slg. 1932  W. D. Cocker Poems 126:
A pirn he had whittled to mak' him a peerie.

4. The reel of a fishing rod (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 159; ne.Sc., Ags., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1966). Also fig. Dim. pirnie, id. Comb. pirn-line. Abd. 1750  Aberdeen Jnl. (13 Nov.):
Brass Pirns for Fishing-rods, Castwork of all sorts for Clock-makers, and Blacksmiths.
Sc. 1824  S. Ferrier Inheritance I. xxx.:
He also wants a pirn of fishing-line, and a few good stout long-shanked bait-hooks.
s.Sc. 1835  T. T. Stoddart Art Angling 17:
The pirn-line . . . should be spun from twelve to fifteen hair's thickness, of the best fresh horse hair.
Sc. 1839  T. C. Hofland Brit. Angler's Man. (1848) 6:
A winch or reel is used for running-tackle, and is generally made of brass, but I have seen them in Scotland made of wood, where they are called pirns.
Per. c.1850  Harp. Per. (Ford 1893) 149:
I wauken'd bricht, To my pirn wildly skirlin'.
Gsw. 1863  J. Young Ingle Nook 72:
He used to mutter by himsel', While on its pirn his line he clew't.
Edb. 1879  Songs Edb. Angling Club 8:
Lengthen out the pirn o' life A-fishing on the Tweed.
Mry. 1897  J. MacKinnon Braefoot Sk. 133:
Peter's wand was home made, straight and sturdy, and had a small windlass — a pirn he called it — for a reel.
Ags. 1918  J. Inglis The Laird 13:
I tak' to my flask when I come till a burn, I drink the flask dry, syne I row up my pirn.
Bnff. 1933  M. Symon Deveron Days 45:
Gie me the plash o' Deveron, The birr o rod and pirn.

5. In Mining, etc.: “a disc on which flat ropes are wound, having spokes or arms to prevent the rope slipping off” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 50; Dmf. 1966), a windlass, axle-reel. Also pirn-(en)gin(e), id. Clc. 1754  Caled. Mercury (17 Oct.):
Two Engines for drawing Water by Horses, one by Hogsheads, called a Pirn Gin, one by Pumps.
Edb. 1759  Edb. Chronicle (23 June):
There is likewise to be disposed of, a Pirn Engine, and a Ventilator Engine for driving fresh air.
Sc. 1793  Phil. Trans. LXXXIV. 17:
The curvature of the wire, acquired by its being wound round a pirn, was not entirely unfolded for some months.
Lnk. 1852  Justiciary Reports (1855) 80:
[This] rope and chain passed over a pulley erected above or near said pit, and was wound round a pirn or axle [of a coal-shaft cage].

6. One of the spools on a windlass used in twisting ropes. Sc. 1903  Westminster Gazette (8 April) 2:
A primitive contrivance of a hand-wheel, three pirns — a man, a woman, and two boys twisting green rushes into ropes.

7. A spinning-top, esp. one made from a cotton-reel or bobbin with a pointed stick through its central bore (Abd.27 1925; Inv. 1947).

8. A stick with a loop of cord for twisting on the nose of a restless horse, a twitch (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Bwk., s.Sc. 1966). Also in n.Eng. dial.

9. A stripe or band in a piece of cloth, of a different colour or texture from the rest of the piece, sc. a stripe made with a different pirn from the rest; an irregularity, unevenness, flaw. Hence pirnie, -y, purny, pirma, adj., striped (Sc. 1825 Jam.), textured, uneven or irregular in weave; fig. defective, faulty. Sc. 1702  Records Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 300, 329:
Bailly Blackwood haveing presented a piece of cloath quherin there was a pirne desires therefore that the Manadgers would consider the same and give abatement accordingly. . . . A piece of cloath . . . quherein there was a pirne and change yearn . . . soe that when the same was cutt there was a coat spoiled.
Sc. 1721  Ramsay Works (S.T.S.) I. 186:
Tho baith his Weeds and Mirth were pirny, He roos'd these Things were langest worn. When a Piece of Stuff is wrought unequally, Part coarse and Part fine, of Yarn of different Colours, we call it pirny, from the Pirn, or little hollow Reed which holds the Yarn in the Shuttle.
Sc. 1733  P. Lindsay Interest Scot. 166:
We should have no more bad Cloth, nor any Cloth disliklied by Bars, Strips, or Pirns, occasioned by putting different kinds of Yarn . . . in the same piece.
Dmf. 1806  Scots Mag. (March) 207:
Ye shaw'd me how to tak' a clue O' pirney yearn.
Dmf. 1836  A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. viii.:
The weaver declared that “the web of his understanding was pirnie” . . . the mason muttered “scrimp to the gage”.

Combs.: ‡(1) pirnie-cap, a type of woollen night-cap, esp. one made in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, the original ones being striped in a variety of colours (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in reduced form pirnie (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 35; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Kcb. 1958; s.Sc. 1966); (2) pirnie-plaid, a Plaid or mantle having a stripe instead of the more usual chequered pattern; (3) pirma rengi, n., striped worsted (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). For rengi cf. ringet s.v. Ring. (1) Sc. 1824  Scots Mag. (May) 532:
Mistaking the honest man's pirnie-cap for a bonnet rouge, persuaded himself that Jacobinism was actually triumphant within the walls of the Burgh.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 382–3:
A monkey . . . leaped on to his shoulder, and plucked off his pirnie.
s.Sc. c.1830  Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 101:
A pirnie-cap, i.e. a cap having circular rings of red, blue, and white colour, alternately.
Bwk. 1863  A. Steel Poems 211:
Her talented artist to name it might vex, Ye'll pick him up by the red pirnie and specks.
Rxb. 1870  J. Thomson Doric Lays (1884) 45:
Kilmarnock pirnies on their heids.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Bog Myrtle 206:
Tibby was knitting at a reid pirnie for her faither.
Slg. 1910  Scotsman (12 Sept.):
Old ladies are seldom seen with “mutches” or old men with “pirnies”.
(2) Sc. 1732  P. Walker Six Saints (Fleming 1901) II. 106:
Cause your servants put out that woman with the pirnie plaid.
Rnf. 1815  W. Finlayson Rhymes 156:
A guid west-kintry pirnie plaid, Loose mantling roun' her shouthers stray'd.
Lnk. 1865  J. Hamilton Poems 192:
Crossing his “pirnie” plaid over his shoulders and chest.

10. By extension of something trivial or of little value, an iota (Sh., Ags. 1966). Sc. 1896  A. Cheviot Proverbs 191:
I'm no a pirn the waur o't.

11. Fig. A quandary, predicament. Cf. 1. Combs. (24), (25), (28). Sh. 1966  :
He's gotten himself into a right pirm.

II. v. 1. To wind (yarn, etc.) on to a pirn or bobbin. Sc. 1818  S. Ferrier Marriage I. viii.:
The incessant carding of wool and knitting of stockings, and spinning, and reeling, and winding, and pirning, that went on amongst the ladies themselves.
Ags. 1872  Arbroath Guide (28 Sept.) 3:
A big wheel for pirnin', a rotten auld reel.

2. With in, out, in fishing: to reel a fishing line in or out. s.Sc. 1885  W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 128:
Haud up yer gaud, — shorten yer line . . . pirn in, pirn in! — pirn out, pirn out!
Gall. 1932  A. McCormick Galloway 78:
When I felt a tug on the line I kent he had tried to brek it wi' his tail, then up he headed an' I purned in for a' I was fit.

3. intr. To spin round like a pirn on a reel, to revolve. Edb. 1897  C. M. Campbell Deilie Jock 54:
The word “murder” was no longer pirning in my heid.

4. Ppl.adj. pirned, †pyrnit, pirmet, of cloth: woven of threads of different colours or textures, striped, variegated (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), pirmet). See 1825 quot. and cf. I. 9. Sc. 1702  Records Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 300:
To send out this pirned pattrone of Bailly Blackwood's.
Ags. 1825  Jam.:
They still say in Angus, that a web is all pirned, when woven with unequal yarn. Cloth is thus denominated, because for each stripe a different pirn or quill is used in weaving.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 22:
Anon, he, in a blink. Tucks up his pyrnit tunic bra.

[Etymology uncertain. O.Sc. has pirn, = 1., from 1473, pyrne, adj., 1511, pirnit, 1494, variegated, broeaded, to wynd one a pirne, fig., 1535, Mid.Eng. pirn, id. Jam. suggests a met. form of prin, Preen (O.E. prēon), a pin, cog. with M.L.Ger. prene, preme, Du. priem, an awl, spike, and the m-n variants might be thought to explain the I.Sc. pirm, but there is no evidence of any interaction of form or meaning between the one word and the other which might support this theory. Cf. Girn and grin. Pirn is phs. rather to be associated with Pirr, Pirl, q.v., as from an imit. formation *pir with the basic meaning of whirling or rotating.]

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