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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DOTTLE, adj., v.2, n.2 Also †dotle.

1. adj. In a state of dotage (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth. Wilson); crazy, witless. Sc. 1820 A. Sutherland St Kathleen III. 162:
“Hoot, ye dottle man,” returned his wife in an audible whisper, “dinna be scaldin' like a tinkler.”
Sc. 1871 in J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude) I. 381:
Dottle Helen had finished her ladyhood at Dublin.
Ags. 1889 J. M. Barrie W. in Thrums xix.:
Did I no tell ye? I'm ga'en dottle, I think.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xv.:
An' there they sat, an' there they drank, Till baith o' them were dottle.
em.Sc. (a) 1896 (2nd ed.) “I. Maclaren” Kate Carnegie 353:
He's been an awfu' handfu' tae me, an' noo a' coont him clean dottle.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet xvi.:
Joiners are a' dottle stupid bodies.

Hence dottleness, dotage, a witless state. Ags. 1914 J. Bell Country Clash 50:
Maybe his very dottleness helpit him to meet the monster wi' a stoot hert.

Comb.: dottle-headed, feeble-minded.Sc. 1924 R. W. Campbell Spud Tamson out West ii.:
She made Jock fetch an' carry like a dottle-headed wean.

2. v.

(1) intr. To be or fall into a state of dotage, to be or become crazy, witless (Cai.9 1949; Mry., Abd. 1825 Jam.2; Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940; Ags. 1949 (per Abd.27)). Cf. Doitel.Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday 165:
It's gien me pain to think That Scotlan' was dotlin'.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xli.:
Keep's an' guide's, Dawvid, ye're dottlin' a' thegither.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 26:
For Jinse, 'at keepit hoose, wis aul', Had dottlin' been for lang.

(2) tr. To make crazy or confused (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940).Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 171:
It turns the brichtest chiels tae sots, An' dottles wit an' lear.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas, etc. 91:
[Love] Rins through their foggy heads, dottles and dazes, Gie's them the skaith and the scorn out-o'er.

(3) Ppl.adj. dottled, -et, -it, stupid, confused, witless, gen. applied to those whose mental faculties are impaired by age (Sc. 1818 Sawers Dict. Sc. Lang.; Cai.9 1949; n.Sc. 1825 Jam.2, -it; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Slg.3, Fif.10 1940). Also fig. (Ags., Bnff., Edb., wm.Sc. 1990s). Also in s.Lin. dial.Sh. 1886 “G. Temple” Britta 178:
“Janet's getting dottled,” one of my elders said to me.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 29:
I suppose it's just old age and she's getting dottled a bit - as if her nerves, like a bundle o elastic cords, are snapping one by one.
ne.Sc. a.1835 J. Grant Tales (1836) 31:
Preserve me, laddie! is't you? I am seerly dotled.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Press and Jnl. (8 Nov.) 6/3:
Bit the aul' boddy wis growin' gey frail an' dottlet, an' she cudna min' on him ava.
Abd. 1930 Nan Shepherd The Weatherhouse (1988) 198:
... her aged grand-aunt who at ninety four, straight as a pine-bole and with all her faculties unimpaired, was seated on the high-backed sofa, knitting at her shank; but her eyes, Lindsay noticed, never left her daughter's face - Ellen, her second daughter, dottled and dying at sixty nine.
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 56:
See, it just goes tae show that mony's the time we mak mistakes aboot folks and we label them wi titles like gomerals or gypet-gypes, but wha among us is tae say that the saft creatures of this world cannae rise abeen their dottled station.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 16:
"Oh! Oh! Oh!" skirled Kirsty, as she stottit tapsalteerie, heelstergowdie, stot, stot, stot, like a dottled yo-yo. It wes sae undignifeed, a stottin cou.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie ii.:
Jamie was rather “dottled,” according to his wife's account.

3. n. A dotard, a person weak in the intellect.Fif. 1894 J. Menzies Our Town 85:
So this is the explanation o' your veesits to the auld dottle.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 205:
Johnnie's but a dottle and nae yise ava tae ony capable wumman.

[From Eng. dote, + suff. -le. ]

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"Dottle adj., v.2, n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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