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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BIRL, v.2

1. To pour out liquor for drinking; to ply with drink.Sc. 1904 Brown Robin in Ballads (ed. Child) No. 97A vii.:
O she has birld her father's porter Wi strong beer an wi wine.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 122:
Meantime we'll tak a glass . . . An' syne we's birle it bauld wi cheerfu' face.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 54:
But we used to birl the stoup and to blether by the lichts.

Vbl.n. birling, action of drawing or pouring out liquor. Given in N .E.D. as obs. except dial. Sc. 1935 F. Niven Flying Years iv.:
A ritual in the birling of the wine round the table.
Bnff. 1853 The Drunkard's Progress in Bnffsh. Jnl. (23 Aug.):
And liberal grows the birling o't.

2. To carouse: often followed by prep. at.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality v.:
Sitting there birling, at your poor uncle's cost.
Abd. 1746 W. Forbes The Dominie Deposed (1821) iii. xii.:
They birl'd fu fast at butter'd ale, To gie them ease.

Phr.: birl the brown bowl, to drink, carouse.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality x.:
“And where are my comrades?” asked the centinel [sic]. “Birling the brown bowl wi' the fowler and the falconer, and some o' the serving folk.”

[O.Sc. birl, byrl, v. (c.1500), pour out for drinking, carouse. O.E. byrelian, O.North. birliga, from O.E. byrele, byrle, a cup-bearer, cogn. O.E. beran, to bear.]

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"Birl v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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