Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SWEEL, v.1, n.1 Also sweal, swiel, sweil(l). Sc. forms of Eng. swill. [swil]

I. v. 1. As in Eng., (1) tr. to wash, rinse, to souse with water (Cld. 1880 Jam.), and fig. to wash (the throat) down with liquor (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. sweelin, a sousing, soaking, in pl. swillings, wash, dregs. Kcb. 1732  Session Papers, Smith v. Murdoch (27 March) 1:
They did violently beat the Cattle in the Troch of the Burn, being a very narrow Bottom, and vexed them by hounding their Dogs at them, so that the cattles having taken a sweelling. . . .
Abd. 1733  W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 30:
He drank it a' — left not a clink His throat to sweel.
Mry. 1806  J. Cock Simple Strains 219:
And fan we chance to meet again, Our throats we's sweel.
Ags. 1897  F. Mackenzie Northern Pine 280:
Tie him in a tow an' sweel him i' the kelpie's pool.
Cai. 1922  J. Horne Poems 9:
'E chuckens fechtin' roond ye for 'e sweelin's o' e' moogs.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 23:
She ca'd the churn an' sweel't the fleer.
Ags. 1934  G. M. Martin Dundee Worthies 150:
The swe-lins o' the tea-pat.

(2) to wash away, to carry off on a current of water; to wash (food) down the throat with a drink (Sh., n. and em.Sc.(a), Kcb. 1972). Abd. c.1800  Sc. Songs (Whitelaw) 262:
Our forefathers' dose, for to sweel down their brose.
Bnff. 1863  Banffshire Jnl. (3 Nov.) 3:
Gie us quaichs o' foamin' ale To sweel the kebbock doon.
ne.Sc. 1884  D. Grant Lays 8:
The eelie pigs an' woo', Were ruint, smasht, or sweelt awa'.
Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS. v.:
A horse and cairt bein sweel't awa doon the stream.
Sc. 1928  T. T. Alexander Psalms cxxiv. 2:
Syne had the fludes O' water sweel'd us doon.

2. To dash or throw (water) about, to cause (a liquid) to swirl round or forward, to swallow in copious draughts (Sh., n. and em.Sc. (a), Kcb. 1972). Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 164:
Then dinna gape like gleds wi' greed To sweel hail bickers down.
Dmf. 1808  J. Mayne Siller Gun 64:
Cauld whisky-punch, and ale, nut-brown, He gart her sweel.
Sh. 1899  Shetland News (17 June):
Shü swill'd da hidmist o' her cup o' tae aroond to get da shuggar a' meltid.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 5:
He sweels the spate Oot ower the feckless banks.
Abd. 1932  D. Campbell Bamboozled 18:
Yon fraucht o' milk ye sweeled doon alang wi' yer chappit tatties.

3. intr. (1) of water, waves: to roll, to spread, to flow with a swirling motion (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh., Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb. 1972). Also transf. Sc. 1879  P. H. Waddell Isaiah 4:
The lave o' the folk, like a spate, sweelin in!
e.Lth. 1885  S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 18:
Oh! never wi' as fond tide Did river roond a shore swiel.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Bog-Myrtle 176:
Whaur the tide sweels black aneath the brig.
Abd. 1943  W. S. Forsyth Guff o' Waur 19:
Afore the tide sweels roun'd your sheen.

¶(2) to be overspread with a liquid, to be dripping or flooded. Abd. 1827  J. Imlah May Flowers 9:
Baith heel an' hoch sal sweel in sweet, Wi' dancin' Lady Huntly.

4. intr. (1) In gen.: to swirl, to go round and round quickly, to spin or revolve, roll (Sc. 1825 Jam.; I., n. and m.Sc. 1972). Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 399:
The dark brown tap o' some big hill He [raven] centers, then around will sweill.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 231:
The stick geed sweelin' roon an' roon i' the muckle pot i' the burn.
Dmb. 1894  D. MacLeod Past Worthies 182:
There he [bowl] comes sweelin' in.
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 185:
The gusts teuk their turn, Or sweil'd round in their madness outricht.
Rxb. 1931  Life and Work (May) 187:
It [snow] sweeled oot o' the north a' nicht.

(2) of dancers: to whirl, to reel, spin round (Ags., Fif., Lnk., Kcb. 1972). Ayr. 1844  Ayrshire Wreath 136:
If they didna twist, and shift, an' sweel round an' round, till you wad hae thought that a' the joints in their bodies war dislockit.
Ags. 1921  A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xviii.:
The dancers had to stop. Geordie had been sweeling with Minnie.
Gall. 1955  Gall. Gazette (19 Nov.) 2:
They crossed, and they cleekit, and they sweeled.

II. n. 1. As in Eng.: a hearty drinking, liquor in ample measure (Cld. 1880 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1972). Edb. 1791  J. Learmont Poems 193:
To tak on New Year's morn a hearty sweel.
Abd. 1969  :
He taks a gweed sweel fyles.

2. A rinsing, a washing or swilling in water (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 231; Cld. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; a hasty wash. Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 188:
Now it [my barrel]'s got a sweel, Ae gird I shanna cast lad.
Mry. 1897  J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 168:
Lat's see a skyte watter fae ye, till A get a sweel.
Fif. 1901  G. Setoun Skipper of Barncraig xxv.:
The houses round the Hine have gotten a bit swill out.
Cai. 1930  John o' Groat Jnl. (31 Jan.):
They're hantle o' fouk wid be nae waur o' a sweel till their face.
Abd. 1957  People's Jnl. (12 Jan.):
This sark wis gaen a sweel thro' tae freshen't.

3. A swirling circular motion of water, a lapping or breaking of waves on a beach, etc. (Sh. 1972); the noise made by this. Sh. 1881  Williamson MSS.:
A sweel aboot da shore.
Sh. 1891  J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 64:
His voice maist droondit i da sweal Frae aff da loch.
Sh. 1899  J. Spence Folk-Lore 14:
The roar o' the burn, an' the swill o' the stripe.

4. A circular motion in gen., a swirl, whirl, spin, twist (ne., em.Sc., Dmf. 1972); “often applied to the quick motion of a fish with its tail” (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Lnk. 1827  R. Chambers Picture Scot. I. 349:
It is three times plumped down into a quantity of water, and once drawn round — three dips and a sweil.
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 78:
He gae his arm an awfu' sweel roond.
Fif. 1916  G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 25:
When he struck up a reel, An' ilka lass, you may depend, Ne'er got a better sweel.

[O.Sc. sweil, to drink copiously, a.1585, the regular Sc. development of O.E. swilian, to drench. Cf. Teel, v.2, to till.]

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"Sweel v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2019 <>



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