Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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BURL, Burrel, v. and n. A variant of Birl, v.1 and n., q.v. [bʌr(ə)l]

1. v.

(1) To whirl, revolve rapidly (Abd.22, Edb.1, Kcb.1 1937). Jak. gives the forms burrel, borl, borrel for Sh. Dmb. 1932  A. J. Cronin Three Loves 326:
The occasional shout [of a Master of the Ceremonies at a dance-hall]: “Swap judies and burl!”

(2) To move rapidly, to hurry (Fif.10 1937). Ags.(D) 1922  J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden ix.:
We wisna lang in burlin' up I can tell ye.

(3) To dance. Gsw. 1935  A. McArthur and H. K. Long No Mean City iii.:
“She's fairly coming on at the burlin',” he boasted. “She's a pure treat at the onesteps an' aw.”

2. n.

(1) A whistle, “esp. the school whistle” (Lth., Bwk. 1937 (per Lnk.3); Kcb.1 1937). Gsw.(D) 1909  J. J. Bell Oh! Christina! v.:
The last lot o' burls wasna up to the mark. . . . The pea was aye stickin'.

(2) The sound made by a whistle (Fif.10, Arg.1, Kcb.1 1937). Gsw. 1898  D. Willox Poems and Sketches 102:
But a' was as silent as ever, except the short, shrill burrel o' a policeman's whistle, dootless hailing his neighbour tae gie him a haun' tae dae naething.

[For change of i to u, cf. Bird and Burd, Birk, n.4, and Burk. The Sh. form burrel has prob. been influenced by Norse burla, to whirl (Torp).]

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"Burl v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Sep 2019 <>



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