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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

(Skibald,) Skybald, n. Also: -bell, -bill, skaybell, skable, schybald. [Of unknown origin. Only Sc. till 19th c., when found in north. Eng. dial.]

1. A rascal, scoundrel; a worthless or contemptible fellow. Also attrib. 1558-66 Knox II 11.
Fy, lett us never leive efter this day, that we sall recule for Frenche schybaldis
1579–80 Glasgow B. Rec. I 77.
Geveand to him money iniurius wordis sick as knayf, skaybell, matteyne and lowne
c1590 Fowler I 320/23.
Yow lie, fals knave, yow limmar skybell: Bot here I end and byds your libell
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxiv 11.
A skurvie skybell for to be esheud
1608 Glasgow B. Rec. I 291.
He sall nocht gang for thé nor na deboscht skybell lyk thé
1608 Reg. Privy C. VIII 191.
Skybill and deboshit swingeour [1609 Reg. Privy C. VIII 787, skable and deboishit schonger]
1718 Craig-Brown Selkirkshire I 439.
Reported to have spoken very reproachfully of the elders … , saying that … they were nothing but a pack of skybalds
attrib. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 120 (T).
Learne, scybald knave, to knave thy sell

2. A poor wretch; ? a tatterdemalion. 1687 Shields Hind let Loose 226.
They brought down from the wild Highlands an host of savages … being also poor pitiful skybalds

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"Skibald n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Jun 2023 <>



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