Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PURFLE, v. Only in ppl.adjs. purfling, causing shortness of breath (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.) and purfled, purfillit (Sc. 1808 Jam.), purfl't. Of persons: fat and asthmatic, of a corpulent build, plump and wheezing, “short-winded, especially in consequence of being too lusty” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Also in altered forms purfet (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), purfeit, purfittie (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), purfly, id. Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 179:
Thae purfeit chiels that clean coach graith, Wi' mony a vile blasphemous aith.
Sc. 1826  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 15:
The language is out of condition — fat and fozy, thickwinded, purfled and plethoric.
Dmf. 1832  Carlyle in
Froude Early Life (1882) II. 231:
Came upon Shepherd, the Unitarian parson of Liverpool, yesterday for the first time at Mrs. Austin's. A very large, purfly, flabby man.
Fif. 1875  Border Treasury (1 May) 460:
“I tell ye, man, that for as fat and purfeit as I am,” — and he folded his hands over his boardly paunch — “I could do the same thing, man . . . wi' the same help.”
Bwk. 1876  W. Brockie Leaderside Leg. 5:
Nae doot they've herriet a' the bykes O' purfeit Monkish drones.
Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
He looks purfl't, . . . breathless and short-winded, as from asthma.

[Orig. doubtful. Phs. an intensive form with -r- of puffle, Eng. dial. deriv. of puff, to blow, pant, swell out, etc.]

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"Purfle v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Mar 2018 <>



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