Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SPAUL, n., v. Also spall, spaal, spawl; spa(u)ld; spool, spull-, spule; ¶speul; speal. [spɑ:l, sp:l]

I. n. 1. (1) The shoulder in man or animals (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.); the shoulder-bone. Sc. 1720  Caled. Mercury (8 Nov.):
About an Inch of Hair worn off his [horse's] far-Spald.
Sc. 1724  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 83:
A various Rain-bow colourt Plaid Owre his left Spaul he threw.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 194:
The chiel that will be prodigal; Whan wasted to the very spaul.
Sc. 1775  Caled. Mercury (28 June):
A Pointer Dog with several liver-coloured spots, particularly one on his left oxter and spald.
Sc. 1801  Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) XII. 191:
In Scotch undoubtedly from the French we have in current use the word spule and spauld for the shoulder blade.
Slk. 1823  Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) i.:
Some entire carcasses hung by the neck, some by a spauld.
Sc. 1829  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 177:
A cloud-giant coverin a parish wi' ilka stretch of his spawl.
Fif. 1868  St Andrews Gazette (5 Sept.):
Guid grant that ye grow stoot an yauld, Baith strang o' limb an braid o' spauld.
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 277:
He wad cast aff his coat, Fauld up his sark sleeves to the spaul.
Sc. 1933  W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 25:
His spauls jirg on like murlin' stanes.

(2) transf. a rounded projecting piece of ground, a bank, shoulder. Ags. 1890–3  Brechin Advertiser (17 June, 2 May):
To purchase yon gryte spauld o' grund. . . . Naething atween's an' the saut water but some half-drooned spaulds o' grund.

2. (1) A limb in gen. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1929); one of the four quarters of an animal, an animal's leg, freq. distinguished as fore- and back- or hind-spaul (see Back-spaul(d), Forespaul). Phrs. spaul frae spaul, spawl and plack, to spauls, limb from limb. Now only liter. Lnk. 1746  D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 164:
Their Brigadier In every Spaul did quake for fear.
s.Sc. 1758  Caled. Mercury (30 Sept.):
Lamed on both the fore-spawls by a Brecham.
Ayr. 1789  J. Fisher Poems 103:
At that time he was young an' yaul, An' hale an' feer in ilka spaul.
Kcb. 1789  D. Davidson Seasons 8:
Bawsy, reluctant, tears the breckan roots Harsh, spaul frae spaul.
Abd. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 8:
Ae night on yon fog-theekit brae, I streek't my weary spauls o' clay.
Rnf. 1805  R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 34:
Sae may misfortune tear him spawl and plack.
Sc. 1819  J. Rennie St Patrick III. xiv.:
Tae rive him in coupins lith, lim' an' spawl.
Rxb. 1826  A. Scott Poems 83:
My muse is e'en grown stiff an' auld, An' spaven'd sair in ilka spauld.
Sc. 1831  Wilson Noctes Amb. (1856) III. 214:
The bubbly, being longer in the spald, would outstep the gander.
Ayr. 1833  J. Kennedy G. Chalmers 134:
In I had the vile dominie here by the neck, I'd tear him to spawls for spoiling wee Tam!
Sc. 1929  Gallovidian 77:
To rive an' rugle, spaul frae spaul, Wi' stourin clash an' din.

(2) specif. of the human legs (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., spalds). Sc. 1808  Jam.:
We vulgarly speak of lang spauls, strictly referring to the limbs.
Dmf. 1810  R. H. Cromek Remains 75:
What step is that by owr ha' en', Which treads sae light o' spauld?
Abd. c.1820  W. Walker Bards (1887) 607:
An' oh, but my ain speuls be sma', My very nose as sharp's a filler.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 69:
My spawls ha'e ne'er a hoshen now, my pouches ne'er a plack.

3. Of a carcase: a joint, a shoulder or leg of mutton, beef, etc., the wing or leg of a fowl (Rnf. 1920); the cut of beef from the shoulder, shoulder-steak (Bnff., Abd., ‡Per. 1971). Sc. 1718  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 72:
Wi' hind and fore Spaul of a Sheep.
Sc. 1803  Scott Minstrelsy III. 113:
The spule o' the deer on the board he has set.
Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Ballads II. 169:
Your fat yow . . . and the four spawls o't.
Dmf. 1810  R. H. Cromek Remains 87:
Dunscore sent her spauls o' sheep.
Sc. 1822  Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 387:
You fin' that spawl o' the gusy rather teuch.
Sc. 1859  E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 52:
Rax me a spaul o' that bubbly jock.
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxiv.:
Kissin 'is twa fingers wis like kissin 'e caal spaals o' a deid hen.
Abd. 1955  Bulletin (19 Feb.) 12:
Spall, another cut off the top of the shoulder.

4. Combs. and derivs. (1) black-spauld, a disease of cattle, which attacks the quarters, a form of anthrax (‡Ork. 1971). See Black Spaul(d); (2) speal-bane, spool-, spule-, spull-, shoulder-blade (Sc. 1808 Jam.); (3) spule-blade, id.; (4) spawldrochie, -y, long-legged. See -Och, suff. II. 2. (3); (5) spall-ill, = (1); (6) spawly, long-, lanky-legged. (1) Sc. 1791  The Bee (4 Aug.) 139:
A fatal distemper that black cattle are subject to . . . commonly called the Black Spald.
Sc. 1807  Trans. Highl. Soc. III. 368:
The black spauld, which prevails among the young cattle in the west of Scotland, when the grasses fail.
(2) Sc. 1761  Magopico 31:
The spule-bane, and the back-sey, and the spar-rib.
Sc. 1771  T. Pennant Tour 1769 154:
Another sort of divination, called Sleine-nachd, or reading the speal-bone, or the blade-bone of a shoulder of mutton well scraped.
Sc. 1787  J. Elphinston Propriety II. 164:
The spool-bane, blade-bone (of meat).
Sc. 1819  Scott Bride of Lamm xviii.:
Then for dinner — there's no muckle left on the spule-bane.
Sc. 1826  Moss-Trooper II. ii.:
I'll lay this stick owre ye're spull-banes, an ye come near the house.
Sc. 1850  J. Grant Sc. Cavalier xvii.:
If the auld witch, Elshender, by keeking through a spule bane should divine our errand.
Ags. 1890  A. Lowson J. Guidfollow 239:
Twa slauky stanes seemit his spule-banes.
(3) Sc. 1824  Scott Redgauntlet Let. xi.:
Claverhouse, his left hand always on his right spule-blade, to hide the wound that the silver bullet had made.
(4) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 412:
Ane spawldrochy lang-legged flee.
wm.Sc. 1890  Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XIII. 100:
When some spawl drochie chiel Gets on te the ba' an' scoots aff like the deil.
(5) Lnk. 1793  D. Ure Rutherglen 191:
The Spalliel [sic], in young cattle, is sometimes cured.
(6) Lnk. 1853  W. Watson Poems 29:
But we're no o' the spawly breed.

[O.Sc. spauld, shoulder (of meat), 1305, spald, limb, in gen., 1570, O.Fr. espal(d)e, espaulle, North. dial. spal. The forms speal, spule, are irreg. It is uncertain whether spule, which is chiefly employed arch. by Scott, represents [spul] or [spɪl]. If the latter, the form, like speal, may be due to confusion with Eng. dial. speel-bone, the small bone of the leg or arm, or with Spule, applied to the breast-bone in Uls. dial. in phr. the spool of the breast.]

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"Spaul n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2018 <>



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