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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

CUITTLE, CUITLE, CUTTLE, Cutle, Cootle, Kiutle, Kuitle, v.1 Cf. Cuddle and Kittle, v.1, 2. [kutl, kʌtl]

1. To coax, wheedle, flatter (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., cuittle); to make a fuss of (someone); “to affect great kindness for some selfish purpose” (Curriehill, cootle); “to please or gratify (a person)” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., cuttle, obs.). Vbl.n. cootlin, coaxing, flattery.Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. II. i.:
They maun cuitle him awa doun to the hottle.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xvii.:
I can tell ye that till the marriage is by . . . May Maxwell will be attended and “kuitled” like a leddy.
Rxb. 1870 J. Thomson Doric Lays 21:
Wi' cootlin' and coakin' [coaxing], sae pauky and slee, They [children] get some queer story frae Eppy M'Gee.

Hence cutling, a flatterer, and cuittler, id. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1819 Marilla in Hogg Jacobite Relics I. 138:
The beauty, in oer rash a jest, Flang the arch cutling [Cupid] in South Sea.

Followed by preps.: (1) aff; (2) doon tae; †(3) in wi'; (4) up.(1) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick vii.:
I ken the stuff by the swatch. That's the way he cuittles ye aff an' flings the glaiks in your een.
(2) Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 22:
I wadna cuitle doon tae him for onything.
(3) Sc. 1718 Ramsay Chr. Kirk iii. vii. in Poems (1721):
I wat na how it came to pass, She cutled in wi' Jonnie, And tumbling wi' him on the Grass, Dung a' her Cockernonny A jee that Day.
(4) Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxiv.:
I . . . dismissed him, rejoicing at heart, though somewhat crestfallen in countenance, to rehearse to his friend the precentor . . . the mode in which he had “cuitled up the daft young English squire.”

2. “To fondle, caress” (Ayr. 1898 E.D.D., cootle); to cuddle. Sometimes with wi'.Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween vi.:
But her tap-pickle maist was lost, When kiutlan in the Fause-house Wi' him that night.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 20:
Their bairn ta'en up wi' a herd laddie, And cootlan by their lanes already.

3. “To handle carefully” (Gall. 1898 E.D.D., cootle).

4. “To smile or laugh in a suppressed manner” (Teviotd. 1825 Jam.2, cuttle), to smile ingratiatingly, to smirk.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 55:
Like some bit clatt'rin' mither's tawse, Whilk tiny brats Despise, or burn, wi' kuitlin maws, To save their batts.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 135:
Wha to be nearest, first to catch her glance, They caper, cuttle, mountebankial dance.

[Origin uncertain. Phs. an unvoiced form of Cuddle, q.v. Eng. dial. has caddle, coddle, in similar senses. See also note to Cuittle, v.3]

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"Cuittle v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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