Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SHAMMLE, v., adj., n. Also shamle, shammel, schaml-. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. shamble. See P.L.D. § 62. [ʃɑml]

I. v. 1. To twist, distort, strain, dislocate, lame (oneself) by taking too long strides. Ppl.adjs. shambling, shammelt, twisted, out of alignment, now esp. of teeth (ne.Sc. 1970). Ags. 1808  Jam.:
You'll shamble yoursell.
Slk. 1829  Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) ii.:
For three things the sheep-fauld is disquieted, and there are four which it cannot bear. . . . A witty wench, a woughing dog, a waukit-woo'd wedder, and a pair o' shambling shears.
Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 42:
The wheels were baith shammelt.
Abd. 1950 15 :
He his an ugly mou o' shammelt teeth.

2. Specif. to twist (the face), make (a wry mouth), grimace. Sc. 1710  T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. sembyl:
“To shamble the (or with the) chafts,” to make a wry mouth.
Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems. 107:
“Na, na,” resum'd she wi' a sneer, Shamlin her gab a-jee.
n.Sc. 1825  Jam.:
He shambled his mou' at me.

3. Deriv. schamlich, to walk with a shambling gait (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 149). Ppl.adj., vbl.n. schamlichan, -in (Id.). Abd. 1930 15 , obsol.:
He cam shamlichan athort the pyoo'ed grun.

II. adj. Twisted, distorted, deformed, crooked, now esp. of teeth (Abd. 1970). Hence shammel-shankit, with crooked legs (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), shammel-shanks, an epithet for a bandy-legged person (Sc. 1880 Jam.). Deriv. schamlich, shambling, puny, weak-limbed (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 149; Mry. 1928). Abd. 1777  R. Forbes Ulysses 24:
[Thersites] wha for's ill-scrappit tongue, An' shamble chafts. . . .
Ags. 1873  D. M. Ogilvy Poems 18:
A skrunkit, shammel-shankit loon.
s.Sc. 1897  E. Hamilton Outlaws xxvii.:
“Haud up, ye shammel-shankit brute”, he continued, as his horse stumbled forward.
Abd. 1961  People's Jnl. (25 Feb.):
I'd vrocht awa' wi' a feow stumps o' teeth for a gweed curn 'ear back, bit iss filie they'd been growin' awfa' shammle.

III. n. In deriv. form schamlich, shamluch, a weak, puny or slovenly person or animal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 149; Mry., Bnff., Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.; ne.Sc. 1970).

[For the adj. use cf. 17th c. Eng. shamble, shambling, ungainly, ill-shaped.]

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"Shammle v., adj., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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