Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
WHITTLE, n.1, v. Also whitle, whettle (Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 101); whuttle (Ags. 1893 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XV. 171; Abd. 1918 W. Mutch Hev ye a Spunk 7); hwitel, hwetel (Sh.). For n.Sc. forms see also Futtle. [ʍɪtl, ʍʌtl]
I. n. A knife, in gen. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Sh., m.Sc., Rxb. 1974), a carving-, clasp- or sheath-knife, a dirk. Obs. exc. dial. in Eng. Dim. whittlie, -y (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 15). Hence whitler, a cutler.
Sc. 1715 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 72:
Twa good Junts of Beef, Drew Whitles frae ilk Sheath. Fif. 1732 E. Henderson Dunfermline (1879) 427:
This is the first named Dunfermline “cutler, or whitler,” on record. Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Journal 23:
A whittle that lies i' the quinzie o' the maun oner the claith. Sc. 1774 Weekly Mag. (27 Jan.) 151:
I'll gie you my whittlie that made the trout-creel. Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry xviii.:
She'll rin her whittle to the hilt I' th' first she meets. Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck iii.:
Down fell his bit whittle to the ground. Sc. 1822 Scott Pirate xviii.:
A land where lads are ready to draw the whittle if a lassie looks but awry. Ags. 1861 “Robin” Rhymes 9:
Aye my hand, wi' instinctive ettle, Gangs to my pouch to seek my whittle. Arg. 1896 N. Munro Lost Pibroch 56:
The halberts, snapped at the haft to make whittles. Kcb. a.1902 Gallovidian XV. 109:
Nor gardener's whuttle sappy vines gar bleed. Sc. 1934 J. Buchan Free Fishers xi.:
We've our whittles, but we're aye sweir to use them.
Phrs. and combs.: (1) Kilmaurs whittle, see Kilmaurs, 1.; (2) to cowe the wee whittle, see Cow, v.1, n.2, III. 8.; (3) to have a good whittle at one's belt, see quot.; (4) to think one's whittle i' the shaft, to imagine that one has attained one's end; (5) whittle-case, a sheath for a knife; (6) whittle-chin, a sharp pointed chin.
(3) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 387:
You had ay a good Whittle at your Belt. Spoken to them that have a ready Answer. (4) Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 25:
She sees him leeshin' up the craft An' thinks her whittle's i' the shaft. (5) Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 18:
The father o' her flesher race, Wore by his side the whittle case. (6) Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 102:
Whittle chins an' lantern chafts.
2. Specif. a harvest-hook, sickle, scythe (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1866 Edm. Gl.); a hedgebill (Lnk., Ayr. 1974). For kail-whittle see Kail, n., 5.
Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1877) I. 174:
A rousty whittle to shear the kail. Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 214:
The pleugh-staff or whittle wield Mair bang than ever. Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 138:
Rise, rise, an' to the whittle, In haste this day. Rnf. 1878 C. Fleming Poems 226:
Time's a chiel that stan's wi' eldrich whittle.
3. A whetstone, specif. one used for sharpening scythes (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 479, whuttle; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh., w.Sc. 1882 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), hwetel, hwitel; Sh., wm.Sc. 1974).
II. v. 1. As in Eng., to pare, shave; to cut with a knife.
Mry. 1830 T. Lauder Mry. Floods 46:
I buckled wi' him [a wolf], and dirkit him, and syne whuttled his craig. Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 119:
He whittled her finger aff ower by the ring.
2. To sharpen, put an edge on with a whetstone. Cf. 3. above. Hence whitling stone, a whetstone.
Rnf. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 51:
Your graving tool, sae keenly whittled, Cuts every stroke. Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 152:
The sharp ring of the whitling stone on the scythe-blades.
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"Whittle n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jul 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/whittle_n1_v>
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