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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BONSPIEL, BONSPEIL, Bonspeel, n. [′bɔnspil, ′bɔnspɛl (less common)] A match between two opposite parties in the game of curling. It takes place gen. between different clubs or parishes. In former days the word was employed in a wider sense — e.g. in connection with golf or archery.Sc. 1773 J. Graeme Poems 39:
Until some hoary hero . . . To his attentive juniors tedious talks Of former times: — of many a bonspeel gain'd, Against opposing parishes.
Sc. 1933 E. S. Haldane Scotland of our Fathers 355:
The Royal Caledonian Curling Club, started in 1838, has since held Bonspiels when weather permits.
Lnl. 1864 J. C. Shairp Kilmahoe, etc. 181:
It's the North o' the Clyde, 'gainst the Southern side, And Loch Winnoch the tryst for the bonspiel to-day.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller of Deanhaugh 16:
But luckily a bonspeil, or match . . . had been played on the loch or marsh of Corstorphin.
Dmf. 1830 R. Brown (ed.) Mem. Curl. Mab. i. 7:
On upland lochs the long expected tryst, To play their yearly Bonspiel.

[O.Sc. bonspel, bonspule, -speil, -spale, a match or contest of any kind. The earliest quotation in D.O.S.T. in the sense of a game of any kind is 1560. The first element is gen. thought to be for Du. *bond = verbond, an alliance, a covenant, hence bonspell, a contest between different bodies. Bense suggests another origin, viz. Du. bonne, vieus, regio urbis (Kilian); cf. O.E. bōnda, a householder, Scand. bōndi, idem, cogn. of O.E. būan, to dwell. For the second element, see ba'spel', s.v. Ba', n.1, 3. (8), and Spiel, n.]

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"Bonspiel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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