Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BIRSLE, BIRSEL, BIRSTLE, v.1 and n. [′brs(ə)l, ′bʌrs(ə)l]

1. v. To broil on the fire; to scorch: to warm thoroughly, to toast. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1818 S. E. Ferrier Marriage (1826) I. xxv.:
Ye gang aw skiltin' about the streets half naked, an' than ye maun sit an' birsle yoursels afore the fire at hame.
Sh.(D) 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 11:
Dat's no true, or doo's birsled dem i' da aimers.
Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 31:
Kennack. — Sassage an' stovies aye gie me the hairt-burn. Dooglie. — Haud at them, than, an' birstle oot yer hairt a'thegither.
Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (10 Jan.) 11 /1:
Bid him come ben And birsle his hands at the low.
Lth. 1868 Ellis E.E.P. V. 724:
Birsle yer taes at the ingle.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 83:
Now whan the Dog-day heats begin To birsel and to peel the skin.

ppl.adjs. birselt, birsled, birs(t)let, scorched, warmed, toasted, and birslin(g), scorching, completely dry. Gen.Sc. [′brsəlt, ′brslɪn] Mry.1 1925:
A birstlet haddy; birslet taties.
Bnff. 1866 W. Gregor D.Bnff. 11:
Will the corn lead the day? Oo, i, it's jist birslin'.
The claise are birslin' (or birslin'-dry). Gang an' wattir thim.
Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1899) 154:
An' scowder'd bannocks, birselt brown, An' tatties i' the skin.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 31:
An' the sun-birsled street, giein' pain to the feet, Is a' that we ken o' the simmer.
Fif. 1908 Colville 122:
The fir-cones . . . turned out their recesses to the birsling sun.
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's o' Solomon xxi. 19:
Better hae yer dwallin on a bare, birslet knowe-heid, Than in-ower wi' ony fykie an' yaffin wumman.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 43:
He took me a flowff i' the haffet with his loof, and stottit awa like a birsled pea!

2. n.

(1) Specially used of that part of a potato which has become brown and hard, after being boiled, through contact with the side of the pot. Lnk.3 1934:
The bairns fecht for the birsles o' the tattie pot.

(2) A thorough warming. Bnff. 1866 W. Gregor D.Bnff. 11:
The bairn's caul'; sit doon afore the fire, and gee't a gueede birsle.

(3) fig. A reproach, gibe. Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick II. x. 191:
Ye wad . . . haud him up in snysts an' birsles till the maw o' him's as fu' as a cout amang clover.

[O.Sc. byrsillit, brissillit, pa.p. (D.O.S.T.), Eng. 16th cent. brissill and n.Eng. dial. 17th cent. brusle (N.E.D.).]

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"Birsle v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2020 <>



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