Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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RATTLE, v., n. Also rot(t)le (Sc. 1721–8 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 117, II. 67, Dmb. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 72).

Sc. usages:

I. v. 1. To pronounce a strong uvular r [R], to speak with a burr (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 77; Sh.. ne.Sc.. em.Sc.(a), Dmf. 1967).

2. tr. and intr. To strike, knock or beat repeatedly, bang, to (cause to) hit, to come violently in contact, crash noisily (Sh., Cai., Ags., Per. 1967). Ayr. 1785  Burns Jolly Beggars Air ii.:
To rattle the thundering drum was his trade.
Kcb. 1806  J. Train Poet. Reveries 37:
I'll rattle wi' thy staff an' croon Then Battie'll bark at me.
Edb. 1856  J. Ballantine Poems 57:
A' the hail pack did he lustily rattle.
Rnf. 1877  J. M. Neilson Poems 39:
Till I, rattlin' on the manse dyke, Nearly brak' my heid in twa.
Sc. 1897  W. Beatty Secretar vi.:
The queen will rattle your heids with that.
Sh. 1901  Shetland News (1 June):
Shu fetch'd da cat a whip i' da ribs fil shu rattled up alangst da partishen.

3. tr. To do anything with great haste (Uls. 1953 Traynor), to put (something) together speedily and not too carefully, usu. with up. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. w.Sc. 1880  Jam.:
To rattle up. To knit, sew, build, etc. with energy and speed: generally implying carelessness also. To rattle down is used to express the taking down of such work in the same manner.

II. n. 1. A strong uvular r in pronunciation, a burr (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 77; Abd. 1967). Fif. 1743  Caled. Mercury (1 March):
Love is a Man low statur'd, black hair'd, and has a Rattle in his Speech.
Sc. c.1775  Signet Lib. MS. 85:
What by the French is termed grassayment in England the burr and by the Scotch a rattle, proceeds from pronouncing the r in the throat.
Sc. 1812  W. Angus Eng. Grammar 343:
That boy has a rattle.
Abd. 1883  W. Jolly J. Duncan 227:
Coldstream, where the inhabitants were “terrible wi' the burr”, which, however, he understood, though their speech was “a bit o' a rattle”.
Bnff. 1891  W. Grant Anecdotes 101:
He had that defect in his speech known as a rattle or burr.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xi.:
He . . . spoke with a “rattle” which signifies in our countryside that he could not sound the letter r properly.

2. A sharp blow or impact, a thump, buffet, crash (Sc. 1818 Sawers). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.; a swift bustling movement. Lnk. 1806  J. Black Falls of Clyde 200:
I'd gi'e 'm a rattle, I'd break his collar-bane wi' a plough pattle.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
I'll gie ye a rattle i' the lug.
Ags. 1858  People's Journal (12 June) 2:
I got a rattle i' the chafts wi' the knotty end of the raip.
w.Sc. 1880  Jam.:
The jugs cam' doun wi' a rattle.
Sh. 1892  G. Stewart Fireside Tales 244:
He fetched me a rattle i' da sma' o' da back.
Sc. 1914  Sc. Nat. Readings (Forsyth) 166:
Or a rattle on the gairds, said Peter, who fancied he saw all the stones.
Rxb. 1967  :
He gaed wi a rattle up the brae.

3. A heap of loose stones, the debris of a cliff or hillside, a scree. Phs. really a variant of rackle, Rauchle. Gall. 1887  H. Maxwell Topog. Gall. 203:
On the mainland, is a cliff called Foxes' Rattle.
Gall. 1935  Scottish Country (Scott-Moncrieff) 37:
But it is curious how certain words are used in the Rhins which are found, so far as I know, nowhere east of Stranraer. Having said so much, I find I can remember but one of them; the word “rattle” for a fox's earth.

III. Combs.: †(1) rattlebag, a bag filled with small stones and hung on the end of a stick to make a rattling noise; “the term seems to have orig. denoted an instrument for frightening brute animals and especially horses in battle” (Sc. 1825 Jam.). The 1824 quot. is an allusion to an expression of the Covenanter, Alexander Peden (see D. H. Fleming Six Saints (1901) I. 91); (2) rattle-cap, a garrulous, chattering person. Also in n.Eng. dial.; (3) rattlehead, in Mining: a suction-pipe (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 54); (4) rattle-pan, = (5). Cf. Pan, n.1, 2.; (5) rattle-scull, a giddy, thoughtless, empty-headed person. Hence rattle-scul(l)ed, frivolous, giddy; (6) rattle sho(o)t, a welcoming volley fired in the air, a salvo of musketry; (7) rattle-stane, -steen, a hailstone, in child's rhyme below (ne.Sc., Per., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1967); (8) rattle-tongued, voluble, chattering. (1) Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 37:
Her teeth gaed like a rattle bag till almost haf gate hame.
Edb. 1822  R. Wilson Poems 25:
Nae guns war then, nor rattlebags, Nor sticks like men clad owre wi' rags.
Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet Letter xi.:
The Bishop's summoner, that they called The Deil's Rattle-bag.
(2) Ags. 1822  A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters 248:
But, la! I am a sad rattle-cap, and should not let my pen run on at that rate.
(4) Ags. 1893  F. MacKenzie Cruisie Sk. 81:
He was astonished at his own patience with this rattlepan, as he inwardly termed Betsy.
(5) Sc. 1724  Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. ii.:
Heh! Lass, how can ye loe that Rattle-scull, A very Deel that ay maun hae his Will?
Sc. 1750  Scots Mag. (March) 113:
He handled her [the Muse] ay better than ye can, Ye rattle-skull.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 207:
His mither was a rattling rattle-scul'd wife.
Ags. 1790  D. Morison Poems 8:
Nae critics when they ken him, Will suffer rattle-sculls to blame him.
Sc. 1806  Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) I. 325:
A rattle-skulled half lawyer, half sportsman.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 404:
A confused mass of words, the language of a rattle-scull.
Lth. 1885  J. Strathesk More Bits 120:
He's a rattleskull of a laddie, Charlie, and does things . . . more out of the exuberant goodness of his heart, than that he means anything in particular.
(6) Rnf. 1835  D. Webster Poems 37:
Now the sodger wad shoot a rattle shot, Wi' their guns up to the lift . . . And aye she damned the rattle shoot, She couldna see for winking.
(7) Abd. 1928 4 :
Rainy, rainy, rattlesteens, Dinna fa' on me, Bit fa' on Johnny Groat's hoose Far across the sea.
(8) wm.Sc. 1854  Laird of Logan 58:
The gaucy, good-humoured, rattle-tongued land-lady.

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"Rattle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Oct 2018 <>



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