Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BOLE, BOAL, Boll, Bolie (dim.), n.1 [bol]

1. A small recess or cupboard in the wall of an apartment. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems II. 229:
Bring frae yon Boal a roasted Hen.
Bnff. 1926 5 :
Boal or bole, a hole in the wall by the fireplace for little odds and ends.
Bch. 1914  J. Leatham Daavit 94:
“Heely, heely, man,” said I, “there's twa books in the bole o' the wa' in ilka Aiberdeenshire hoose, an' een o' them's the Haly Bible an' the ither's ‘Johnny Gibb o' Gushetneuk'!”
Peb. 1793  Carlop Green, Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) lxxxvi.:
Sche hurries ben to her ayn boal.
Ayr. 1792  Burns Weary Pund o' Tow (Cent. ed.) ii.:
There sat a bottle in a bole Beyont the ingle low.
w.Dmf. 1899  J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 368:
Next your richt hand there's the bole Fu' o' serious books and droll.

2. A small opening in the wall of a building of any kind, usually provided with a wooden shutter instead of glass. Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary (1818) iii.:
Open the bole wi' speed, that I may see if this be the right Lord Geraldin.
Ags.(D) 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xv.;
1 :
If ye pet your nose in aboot ony bolies harkenin', you'll mibby get the wecht o' a bissam shaft on the end o't.
m.Lth. 1793  G. Robertson Agric. of Midlothian 33 Foot-note:
An additional light to that of the chimney, from a slit or bole in the wall, made up the whole architecture of the building.
Slk. a.1835  Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) VI. 97:
“Callant Peter, gang an' stap a wisp i' that bole,” said Pate: “it seems to be the beacon light to a' the clanjaumphry i' the hale country.”

3. With extended meanings.

(1) A boy's wardrobe. Edb. 1898  J. Baillie Walter Crighton 170:
The bell . . . sent the boys scampering up to the bolls to change their clothing.

(2) An opening in the hills. Sc. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 I. 180–181:
The ordinary command given to those who are sent out to obtain such information [regarding weather] is, “Go see how the bole of Borthwick looks.” This, however, arises not from our climate being more subject to rain than that of the level country — but from the peculiar configuration of our glen — which apparently stretches considerably backwards among the lower hills, as seen from a distance.

4. Comb.: bole-hole, “air hole in wall of barn or stable; a square hole in the wa' near the fire, where the salt box is kept” (w.Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott Vern. of Mid-Nithsdale in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 18).

[O.Sc. bowall, bowel, bewell, boill, boal, a recess in the wall (D.O.S.T.). Origin obscure.]

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"Bole ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Nov 2019 <>



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