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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOOL, BOUL, BOWILL, n.2 Also used attrib. Anything that is of a bent or curved form, e.g. the elbow, when the arm is bent; a semi-circular handle, as that of a bucket; or the finger and thumb holes in scissors; the curved handle of a wooden basket; the convex curve of the face of a roughly dressed stone (Fif. 1953). Also used in pl. for the hooks on a crook, and “two crooked instruments of iron, linked together, used for lifting a pot by the ears. Also, the rim of spectacles” (Cai. 1907 D. B. Nicolson in County of Cai. 66). [bul]Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xi.:
This comes to hand like the boul of a pint stoup.
Sc. 1825 Jam.2, s.v. boul:
“The bool of the arm,” when it is bent, i.e. the curvature.
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 131:
Baith seut an' snaw lay on his joopan . . . The bools hung ower his breest, Doon fae the pot, tae his wanjoy.
Bnff. 1860 (per Bnff.12):
Bool: hinged handle of a pot; also hinged piece of iron by which cattle are fastened in a byre (also called branks).
Abd.(D) 1867 Mrs Allardyce Goodwife at Home xxxix.:
Rax doon the bools, link up the cruik, Hing on yer tatie bree.
Slg. 1966 Stat. Acc.3 145:
The reins or 'bools' were made of ash, hazel, or oak. The broader and thicker strips of oak that went from side to side of the basket were called 'spales'; the narrower and thinner strips of oak that went lengthwise were called 'the tawse'.
wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan I. 82:
Mony . . . hae gotten the thread o' life sneckit in twa, since I put my finger and thumb to the bool o' the shears.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xxiii.:
Wi' my broth in a tin can that she was carryin' by the bool, careful no to spill.
Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.:
Bool, the bow of a key, or of scissors.
Uls.2 1929:
Bool, the ear of a griddle.

Hence booled, in phr. booled oars, “a kind of oars used by the Scotch quarter fishermen at Carrickfergus” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.). The bool here is the rounded staple for working on the thole pins, or the iron plate attached to the oar and having a round eye in its centre through which the thole pin passes. See E.D.D. s.v. bool, n., 6 and 7.


1. Bool-backit, booly-backit, round-shouldered, humpbacked.Sc. [1826] R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 158:
Three score o' Highland Kye, One booly-backit.
Abd. 1925 Greig and Keith Last Leaves 101:
Bool-backit like a bear.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lad's Love xiv.:
Small, wizened, "boolie-backed," for all the world like a puggie-monkey on a streetorgan.

2. Boul-faced, a building stone with a slightly convex face (Fif. 1953).

3. Bool fit, club-foot.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto Tammas Bodkin (1868) xii.:
Bonnie messans indeed! Ane o' them wi' a bool fit an' the ither gleyed o' an ee.

Hence bool-fittit.Ags.1 1935:
He canna rin very fest; he's bool-fittit.

4. Bool-horned, boul-, boolie-, (1) with twisted horns; (2) fig., see 1808 quot.(1) Arg. 1721 Arg. Justiciary Rec. (Stair Soc.) II. 360:
Two cows black coloured crum or bowill horned.
Lnk. 1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 14:
Jockey's mither killed the black boul horn'd yeal Ewe, . . . three hens and a gule fitted cock, to prevent the ripples.
(2) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Bool-horned, perverse, obstinate, inflexible. This word, it would appear, is from the same origin with Bools, as containing a metaph. allusion to a beast that has distorted horns. What confirms this etymon is, that it is pronounced boolie-horned, Border and W. of Sc.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. of Christ ii. iii.:
Tae be able tae leeve quately wi' the dour an' the boul-horned, or wi' the rampageous, . . . this is a grit grace.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 103:
A boul-horn'd goodwife.

[O.Sc. boull, bowl, curved piece of iron, esp. one forming the handle of a pot or bucket, the ring of a key or of each limb of a pair of shears (D.O.S.T.), northern E.M.E. boule (1570), Fris. bûgel, Mid.Du. boghel (Du. beugel), Mid.L.Ger. bogel (L.Ger. bögel), etc., all meaning bow, hoop, ring, from same stem as O.E. būgan, pa.p. bogen.]

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"Bool n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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