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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CUDDLE, v. and n. Also ¶coodle (Sc. 1867 N. Macleod Starling (1881) xiii.). Sc. usages. Cf. Cuittle, v.1 [kʌdl]

I. v.

1. To squat, to sit close (Abd.2, Lnk.11 1941).Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair ii. lxix.:
Yet sleep not all; for by the social fires Sit many, cuddling round their toddy-sap.
Rxb. 1942 (per Lnk.11):
Ye'll get bieldit a wee if ye cuddle ahint the wa'.

2. “To speak in a low tone of voice; most frequently used of lovers” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 33).Ib.:
We left thim sittin' aneth a tree, cuddlin' wee ane anither.

Hence cuddlan, vbl.n., (1) “close intimacy and friendship” (Ib.); (2) “conversation carried on in a low tone of voice” (Ib.).(2) Ib.:
Twa or three o' thim geed, an' sat doon in a corner, an' heeld a sad (very great) cuddlan wee ane anither.

3. “To approach in a delicate, flattering way” (Ib. 34; Abd.9, Slg.3 1941). Sometimes with up.Bnff.2 1941:
Fat are ye cuddlin' up tae me that wye for? Ye maun be needin' something.

4. In a game of marbles: (1) “to throw the ‘pitcher,' or marble used by the player to strike with, as near as possible to the ‘ring,' or space where are placed the marbles to be played for” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34; Bnff.2 1941); (2) (see quot.); hence cuddler (see also quot.); known to Bnff.2 1941.(2) Bnff. 1890 (per Abd.5):
In the big ring game of marbles, we could claim the right to “cuddle,” i.e. press a marble into the ground close to the others in the centre. The rest of the players could roll a marble to touch it, when the man claiming the right had to pay him out of his own pocket. The marble so placed was the cuddler.

5. With advs. and preps.: (1) cuddle aff, (a) “to entice away” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34); (b) “to coax one to leave his own party, but not necessarily to join the opposite” (Ib.); (2) cuddle awa, = (1) (a) (Ib.); (3) cuddle our, “to withdraw one from his own party, and attach him to the opposite” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34); (4) cuddle round, to envelop.(2) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34:
They cuddlet awa the silly loon to stehl aipples.
(4) Ayr. 1901 “G. Douglas” House with Green Shutters 89:
Their homely fragrance wooed you from afar, the mellow savour cuddling round you half a mile off.

6. Combs.: (1) cuddle-muddle, “to speak in a secret, muttering voice” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34); (2) cuddle-my-dearie, raspberry wine (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 241).(1) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 34:
I got thim cuddle-muddlin wee ane anither at the back o' a dyke.
(2) Ags. 1895 Arbroath Guide (28 Dec.):
Twa tenpenny bottles o' cuddle-my-dearie.

7. Derivatives: (1) cuddly, bed (from Eng. cuddle, to nestle down to sleep); also combs. cuddly-ba (Slg.3 1941) and cuddly-bye (Kcb.10 1941), id.; (2) cuddler, a bedfellow.(1) Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 70:
I'd strip aff his wee duds, an' put him to cuddly.
(2) Lnk. 1878 W. Penman Echoes 75:
While married “cuddlers” closer draw, When winter cleeds the hills wi' snaw.

II. n.

1. “A very close intimacy” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 33).Ib.:
They hive an unco cuddle thegeethir.

2. “Conversation carried on in a low tone” (Ib.). Dim. cuddlie, “a whispering, or secret muttering among a number of people” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).

3. Combs.: (1) cuddle muddlan, “conversation in a low, muttering tone of voice” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 33); (2) cuddle-muddle, “a secret confabulation; often with evil intent, or supposed evil intent” (Ib.).(2) Ib.:
The twa canna be aboot gueede: they're haudin' sic a cuddle-muddle thegeethir.

[Etym. and early hist. of word obscure. It seems to have come from a dialect source and is first found in St.Eng. and Sc. early in the 18th cent. Various origins have been suggested: (1) * couthle, frequentative from Couth, adj., familiar, friendly, q.v.; (2) Du. kudden, to gather together; (3) Eng. caudle, a warm drink, coddle, pamper. But none is entirely satisfactory.]

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"Cuddle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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