Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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COAL, Coll, Kol, n. Meanings not found in Mod.Eng. See also Quyle. [kol Sc.; kɔl I.Sc.]

1. “A small piece of partly burnt, glowing peat on the hearth” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), kol); “a burning piece of fuel, a brand” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); “a red-hot cinder” (Cai.7, Abd.2 1936; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); pl.: “embers” (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 150; Cai.3 1931). Sh. 1900 Shet. News (5 May):
Her face lep as red as a coll efter shü wis spok'n aboot Tamy.
Ork.1 1930:
Roast the sillicks i' the coals.
Mry.1 1914:
Dinna cry oot til there's a coal upo yer taes.
Lnk.3 1936:
I have often heard my grandmother say: “Kittle the coals an' gar the peat lauch.”

2. In phr. black coal, “coal slightly burned by igneous rock” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 10; Fif. 1943 (per Edb.6); a fine sort of cannel coal or jet used by carpenters and masons to mark on wood and stone (Sc. 1893 N.E.D.).

3. In pl.: the coal-pits (Gsw.2 1936); also found in Cum. dial. (E.D.D.). Also in phr. to gang to the coals, an expression referring to the “praetice of farm servants going to the bing at pit-head for cartloads of coal” (e.Lth. c.1890 A. M. Jamieson in Scotsman (2 Nov. 1942)). Hdg. 1745 Johnnie Cope i. in Jacobite Relics (ed. Hogg 1821) II. 113:
If ye were wauking, I wad wait To gang to the coals i' the morning.

4. Phrases: (1) to bring out o'er the coals, to tak ower the coals, to scold, call (someone) to account (Bnff.2 1936, to bring — ); cf. Eng. to haul or call over the coals; †(2) to get a coal on one's foot, to set one's foot on a coal, “to go to lodge in a house where one's sleep is disturbed by a childbirth” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.). Also given in Jam.2 (1825) for Rxb. (1) Abd. c.1746 W. Forbes Dominie Deposed (1800) ii.:
But time that tries such proticks past, Brought me out o'er the coals fu' fast.
Abd.9 1936:
He was teen ower the coals for checkin' the maister.

5. Combs.: (1) coal-coom, coal dust (Bnff.2, Lnl.1, Lnk.3 1936); cf. (4) below; (2) coal fauld, an enclosure for storing coal (Edb.6 1943, obsol.); coal fold is obs. in Eng.; (3) coal gabbert, see Gabbart; (4) coal-gum, coal dust (Slg.3 1936); “small-coal, dross, riddlings, as used for furnaces, etc.” (Sc. 1887 Jam.6); cf. (1); †(5) coal-heugh, a coal-pit; (6) coal-hill, “ground occupied at a pit head or mine-mouth for colliery purposes” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 19; Slg.3 1936; Edb.6 1943, obs.); †(7) coal-leaf, “a leaf of sooty matter shed off burning coal” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.); (8) coal-neuk, a recess for keeping coal; a coal-cellar (Bnff.2 1936); (9) coal-peats, peats almost as hard and heavy as coal; (10) coal-ree, a store from which coal is sold (Bnff.2, Lnl.1, Arg.1 1936); Edb.6 1943 says obsol.; †(11) coaltown, colton, “the eighteen century equivalent of a ‘miners' raw' — houses built near a pit solely for the miners” (Edb.6 1943, obs.); (12) coal-wheechar, a coal vendor. For other combs., see individual entries. (1) Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes an Knowes 12:
No a leevin sowl . . . did A sei . . ., bar yeh haaflang chaap as black as Eppie Suittie (wui a face aa coal-coom).
(2) Edb.1 1929:
Not far away too was the “coal fauld,” where coal at one time lay ere being shipped.
(4) Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life x.:
His legs bare to the knees, his breast open, his touzie head and the coal-gum nae mair than aff his face.
(5) Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife and Kinross 126:
The Damps of these Coal-heughs are sulphureous and narcotick.
Dmf. 1891 J. Brown Hist. of Sanquhar 344:
The opportunity was taken by farmers to make repeated journeys to the “coal-heugh,” and lay in a stock of fuel.
(8) Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxv.:
It was a wonderful business . . . to find Mounseer from Paris in his coal-neuk.
(9) Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 8:
Along the sidewall two flagstones were set up to form a “paetie-neuk,” where the day's supply of yarpha [surface peat] and good “coal-peats” was stored.
(10) Lnk. c.1886 Jeems Kaye (reprinted from The Bailie 1903) 16:
I wrote a notice and pasted it up on the door o' the coal-ree.
Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life xi.:
The auld coach-house was turned into a coal-ree.
(12) Edb. 1881 (6th ed.) J. Smith Habbie and Madge 88:
A heavy thud on the roof, caused by a coal-wheehar dischargin' a bagfu' o' black jewellery into the bunker o' the hoose aboon, startles yin o' the twins.

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"Coal n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jan 2022 <>



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