Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BOOL, BOUL, Boull, n.1 Also dim. boolie, boaley. [bul' ′buli Sc., but Ork. + bol, ′bol]

1. A marble. Gen.Sc. Sh.(D) 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 36:
Tystie Taamsin wagered me six marbles 'at I widna dü it, an' I wanted da bools.
Abd.(D) 1920 C. Murray In the Country Places 1:
Syne he rypit his pooches an' coontit his bools, The reed-cheekit pitcher an' a'.
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor xii.:
There go the “bools” and the “peeries,” just as of yore, without the slightest prearrangement among the callants.

Comb.: boolholes, a game of marbles. Ags. 1899 D. Buchanan Leisure Lays 76:
There many a funny game we've played — Fitba', boolholes, and boolyhorn.

2. A bowler's bowl, a “wood.” Gen.Sc. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 346:
Nor dousser Fowk wysing a Jee The byass bouls on Tamson's Green.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 6:
A game at the bools, noo, or curlin' in the Winter time, or even the racecoorse itsel', would set you far better.

Phrases: (1) the bools row smooth, the boolie rows fine, all goes well; (2) to row a smooth bool, to make matters run smoothly. (1) Abd.(D) 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 24:
Twa sizzens wi' the cairt an' then — his boolie rowed sae fine — He took a roadside shoppie.
Fif. 1887 “S. Tytler” Logie Town I. xii.:
But bools are not rowing ower smooth between the auld man and the young.
(2) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
“See here, Jims,” he says to me — “ye're a gey pawkie chiel; there's no' mony can row a smoother bool than yoursel. We'll lippen to you.” Attrib. with maill (rent, hire).
Sc. 1701 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (8 April):
For boull maill at ye potteraw . 0: 3: 6

3. Extended to mean the game. Ork. 1923 D. Horne Kirkwall Games in Ork. Antiq. Socy. 67:
Boys . . . were great on marbles. There were several games, and these were indulged in, as far as I remember, during the spring months. “Boaley” was a favourite of mine.

4. Any other kind of ball or rounded thing, such as a cannon-ball, a bullet, a shinty ball, a rounded stone or pebble; “a sweet” (Slg.3 1935). Cai. 1934 “Caithness Forum” in John o' Groat Jnl. (19 Jan.):
A . . . gave Princie twa-three dichts wi' a wisp o' strae, an' A'm oot wi' 'im an' up wi' one feet on 'e beig bool 'side 'e stable door.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 7:
Nater has blinded the causie by crumlin' doon the causie bools.
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 36:
Big neeps we'll howk for Hallowe'en, Shinties to fung the fleeing bool.
m.Sc. 1924 “O. Douglas” Pink Sugar (1928) xv.:
I was allowed to buy sweets called Market Mixtures, and there were fragments of the pink hearts among the curly-doddies and round white bools, and delicious they tasted.

[O.Sc. boull, bowl, booll, one of the balls used in the game of bowls, the game itself; a ball or globe (D.O.S.T.): Fr. boule, ball, spherical body; Lat. bulla, bubble, round knob.]

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"Bool n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Sep 2021 <>



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