Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BEAL, BEEL, Bail, Bale, Beill, Bael, v., n.1 [bil Sc., Ant.; bèl Mry., U.Bnff., Deeside, e.Per., Fif., I.Sc.; be1l Ags.]

1. v.

(1) intr. To fester; fig. to be filled with pain or remorse. Gen.Sc. and Uls.Sc. (W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn. 1880, also Uls.2 1929). Sc. 1705 Wodrow Analecta (Maitland Club) (1842) I. 69:
Weel, Sir, if you be guilty . . . God will, it may be, make your hidden sin beel out at your breast.
Ork. 1929 J. T. S. Leask in Old-Lore Misc., Ork. Sh., etc. IX. ii. 78:
Hid baled lang, an' hid waas amis apin 'im teu for bean sae feulie.
Mry.1 1925:
Bail, to fester; to suppurate.
Bnff.7 1928:
The doctor says ma mither's thoom's gyan ta beel.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 64:
Her heart for Lindy, now began to beal, An' was in hover great, to think him leal.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 168:
I'll ne'er forget yon luckless day I drave the graip doun thro' my tae, Oh, hoo it festered, rosed, an' beal'd.

(2) tr. To make sore. Lnk. 1825 Jam.2:
I'll no beill my head about it.

2. n. A festering sore. Abd.7 1925:
Beel, a festering sore. [The vbl.n. bealin' is more common.]

3. ppl.adjs. (1) bealt, beeled, festered; (2) beelan, beelin', baelin, bealin, festering. Gen.Sc. and Uls. (1) Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie I. iii.:
The lass is laid up wi' a bealt thoom.
Uls. 1898 M. B.-S. in E.D.D.:
A beeled finger.
(2) Sc. 1893 W. T. Dennison in Scot. Antiq. VII. 174:
The youngest lass had to stay at home, for she had a beelan (suppurating) foot.
Sc. 1920 D. Rorie The Auld Doctor 16:
He'd stuff for healin' beelin' lugs.
Sh.(D) 1916 Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr Jone 19:
Ye canna sleep soond wi a baelin toom [thumb] tiftin [throbbing].
Ags.9 1926:
A baelin' finger.
Arg.1 1929:
What's the matter with your sister? She hez a bealin thoomb.
Uls.2 1929; Uls. 1931 “Portglenone” in North. Whig and Belfast Post (5 Dec.) 13/2.

4. vbl.n. bealin', beelin, bealdin (see Gall. and Uls. quots.). Gen.Sc. Abd. 1918 W. Mutch Ay, Ay, hev ye a Spunk 27:
He said there was a bealin' in't, but sure eneuch he got Anither number nine.
Mearns 1929 J. B. Philip Weelum o' the Manse 11:
A hae seen beelins without and within, and whan they were sitten wi' a'thing else, a poultice o' yalla neeps did the wark.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 58:
Beelins. Suppurations; bilious tumours in the flesh.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Bealdin, bealin, matter from a sore; also a suppurating sore.

5. Comb.: whitly-beal. (See quot.) Ags.2 1933:
I am familiar with whitly-beal = whitlow.

[O.Sc. bele, beil, beal(l), v., swell with moisture, suppurate (of a sore), swell with rage. Dunbar in the Twa mar. wemen, 164, says “a byle that is lang beilit, Brekis at the last.” Byle comes from O.E. bl, a boil, cogn. with Du. buil and Ger. beule, a boil, O.N. beyla, a hump, Goth. uf-bauljan, to blow up, all with the underlying idea of swelling. The Sc. beal with its alternative bael cannot come from the O.E. bl. Caxton's beelis is prob. the regular Kentish form of O.E. byl (cf. O.Fris. bele), as Kentish dial. changed W.Saxon y to ē (see Sweet H.E.S. § 487). The cognate of Goth.-bauljan in O.E. would be *bīelan (from *bēaljan), O.North. *bēlan, the latter of which would give rise to Sc. beal. Bled brēost (? = īe = mutated form of ēa) occurs in O.E. = puff-breasted, of a bird. In all cases the meaning is swelling, suppuration, which is rather against the derivation (given in E.D.D.) from O.N. bla, to burn, O.E. bl, fierce fire, although fiery heat is an accompaniment of a bealing.]

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"Beal v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Jul 2021 <>



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