Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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STARTLE, v., n. Also stertle (Jam., Watson). Sc. form and usages. [stɑrtl, s.Sc. stærtl]

I. v. 1. To rush wildly, to charge madly, to stampede, esp. of cattle when stung by gadflies (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ayr., Wgt., s.Sc. 1971). Sc. 1699  Urim and Thummim 6:
Folk would not lose their patience, and startle to the gate ere they get light from God.
Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 214:
It will be a hot Day that will make you startle; spoken to settled, sober, grave people, who are not easily moved.
Sc. 1768  Session Papers, Petition Duke of Queensberry (6 Aug.) 17:
He hounded them out of the corn, when they startled over the dikes in a warm day.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Twa Dogs 163:
He down Italian vista startles.
Slg. 1804  “Transforthanus” Poems 42:
Cattle wag their tails an' startle.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 265:
Whan simmer suns were blazing high, And clegs made cattle startle.
Lth. 1825  Jam.:
“An I were to startle as aften as ye cry Bizz, my tail wou'd never be aff my riggin.” This refers to the practice of mischievous boys, who often cry Bizz, as imitating the sound of a wasp or gad-fly that they may set the cattle a running.
m.Sc. 1898  J. Buchan John Burnet i. i.:
The cattle were stertling, as we called it in the countryside.

2. Fig. of an unmarried woman: to be restlessly eager for marriage. Vbl.n. stertlin. Sc. 1825  Jam.:
She may gie owre her stertlin; for she'll die the death of Jinkam's hen. She has na gi'en owre her stertlin' fits yet, the great gowk she is.

3. Comb. startling Jack, stertlin'-stoogy, stertle-a-stoogy, stertle-ma-stookie, startlin'-stovy (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), startle-o-stovie (Slk. 1825 Jam.), the shimmering of the air rising from the ground on a very hot day. See also Jack, n.1, 5.(12), Jock, 4. (32). Sc. 1863  Edb. New Philosoph. Jnl. XVIII. 229:
Much undulation in the air near the surface of the earth on a hot day in May or June foretells a lowering of the temperature. This is called Startling Jack.

II. n. A rushing about, a stampede, as of cattle stung in hot weather. Ags. 1899  C. Sievwright Garland 35:
The kye took the startle and ran hame.

[O.Sc. startle, to charge off, of a horse, 1513.]

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"Startle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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