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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CABBY-LABBY, CABBY-LAB, Kabbie-labby, Kabbie-llabbie, Kabbilabbi, Kebbie-lebbie, Kebby-lebby, n. and v.

1. n. “Altercation, wrangling” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 92, kabbie-llabbie), “especially as carried on by a variety of persons speaking at one time” (Ags. 1825 Jam.2, kebbie-lebbie); “confused speaking, many persons talking at the same time” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., kabbielabby; 1914 Angus Gl., kabbilabbi).Sc. 1994 Scotland on Sunday 22 May :
The thought of a Doric opera may not have many aficionados around the shelters of Guild Street but the subject has caused a right ol' cabby labby (rough translation: argy-bargy) within the north-east's art world.
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 124:
In the middle of their eabby-labby, peerie Magnie Tait . . . screwed his way in amongst the feet of the Hollanders.
Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 15:
An' syne a kebby-lebby loud Gat up, an' twenty at a time Gae their opinions of the crime.
Ags. 1864 Arbroath Guide (23 Jan.) 2/5:
Which wisna a'thegither true, although they had a lang cabby-lab aboot it.
Gsw. 1912 A. G. Mitchell in Scotsman (9 Jan.):
First there was an argie-bargie, syne there was a kebbie-lebbie.

2. v. To altercate, to wrangle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 92; Ags. 1808 Jam., s.v. kebbie).Sh. 1898 Shet. News (7 May):
I saa i' da paper last ook, a lok o' dem kabbielabbian aboot it.

[Cf. Eng. gab and gabble, and Mid.Du. kebbelen, E.Fris. kabbeln, to chatter, Mod.Du. kibbelen, to wrangle.]

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"Cabby-labby n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Feb 2023 <>



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