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

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

(Kele,) Keill, n.3 Also: keile, keyle, keel. [Of obscure origin: Gael. cíl may be f. Sc. Also in mod. Sc. and north. and north midl. Eng. dial. and that of north. Ireland, as keel, keil, keal.]

1. Keel, the red ochre used for marking sheep; ruddle. See also Kelestone. 1641 Acts V. 392/2.
That all sheip be marked with keill & not with tar or pick
1675 Melrose Reg. Rec. II. 421.
The ewes were keilled with red keill
1684 Sibbald Scot. Illustr. iii. 42.
Rubrica the marking stone, nostratibus keel dicitur

2. transf. (The owner's) red mark made with ruddle on sheep. Also coupled with mark. 1480 Acta Conc. 57/2.
The lordis assignis to Thomas Symsone … to prufe that the gudis … war one the lard of Fernyis avne landis and had his keyle and his merk
1606 Edinb. Test. XLI. 199 b.
His haill hoggis that beiris his mark & keill
1661 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 344.
The said lambes … markit with his keile and marke
1696 Peebles B. Rec. II. 155.
[He] knew perfectly the skin of the sheep produced to him to be the skin of James Ewmonds ew … , by the keill upon the neck and arse

b. fig. A mark of identification made on a person. 1513 Doug. x. vii. 82.
At this tyme has Pallas … Markyt ȝon swa with sic rude differens, That by hys keill ȝe may be knaw fra thens

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"Kele n.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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