Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SWEEL, n.3, v.3 Also sweal, sweil; swill, swuil, suil(l), swell. See also Sool. [swil, I.Sc. swɪl]

I. n. 1. A swivel, in I.Sc. use esp. of a swivel on a grazing animal's tether (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 211, 1914 Angus Gl., swill; Ork. 1929 Marw., swill, swuil; Uls. 1929; I., ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Gall. 1972). Bte. 1722  Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 678:
For perchment and suills to the drum.
Abd. 1752  Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 16:
1 symilk, 1 suil and 1 knif.
Edb. 1759  Edb. Chronicle (14 April):
A neat assortment of Fishing Tackle; lines, wenches, suills and pyke-hooks.
Ork. 1883  J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 383:
You'll find it on the coo's tether, outside, it's just from the knot to the swell.
Sh. 1908  Old-Lore Misc. I. vi. 229:
A “swill” is a bit of wood about six inches long and three broad, rounded at the ends, and with two holes in it. Through those holes the knotted ends of rope were passed, and the “swill” had the curious effect of preventing the ropes from tangling.
Cai. 1916  John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
The tether had its “headsteel,” “sweel” and “baukie.”
Abd. 1917  Rymour Club Misc. II. 182:
Never tether a caufie wintin' a sweil.
Sh. 1949  J. Gray Lowrie 124:
Roomin oot twa aik swills wi da singin iron.

2. A compass. Nonce. Sc. 1879  P. H. Waddell Isaiah xliv. 13:
He gangs at it wi' chisels syne, an' syne he lays't aff wi' a sweel.

II. v. To tether animals at grass together with a swivel on the rope to give limited free play to their movements (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (15 Dec.) 10; Sh. 1972). Uls. 1892  Ballymena Obs. (E.D.D.):
A pair o' sweeled sheep.

[A reduced form of swivel, which became obs. in Eng. in the 17th c. O.Sc. has swele, 1502.]

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"Sweel n.3, v.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2018 <>



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