Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

DRABBLE, v. and n. Also draib(b)le, †drable, and deriv. drab(b)lich, -och. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. drabble. [′drɑbəl Sc., but Fif., Edb. + ′drebəl]

I. v.

1. tr.

(1) To dirty, to besmear (Fif.13 1940, draible; Arg.1 1929). Ppl.adj. drabbl(e)d, dirty, bespattered (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. draglit; Abd.4 1930); vbl.n. drabblin.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
One is said to drable his claise who slabbers his clothes when eating.
Bnff.2 1940:
Grandad's gettin shakky in the han', an' drabbles his wasket [waist-coat] at ilka diet.
Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 69:
Wae wags ye, chiel, whare hae ye been, Ye've gotten sic a drabblin?
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick v.:
An' see ye keep oot o' the dibs an' no' draible your buits.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 248:
And did the breast o' Bauldy Scott Wi' ugsome splairges draible.
Kcb. 1896 S. R. Crockett Grey Man ii.:
Such drabbled stuff is not for the drinking of a lady.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 283:
She drabbled them owre wi' a black tade's blude, An' baked a bannock, — an' ca'd it gude.

(2) To mop; to soak.Bnff. 1860 Bnffsh. Jnl. (24 April 3:
In a waugh droukit plaid to be drabbl'd a' day.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 21:
And your wife'll gang and draible Your face wi' an auld cloot.

2. tr. and intr. To spill (Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1940).Bnff. a.1829 J. Sellar Poems (1844) 44:
The maiden lasses tak' the speen. . . Some drabble sups — some unca clean Gang on ding dang.
Dmb. a.1853 in D. Macleod Poet. Lennox (1889) 273:
And tentlessly the crowdie sweet They draibble on the clean hearth stane.

3. intr. To drizzle (Abd.15, Ags. per Abd.27) 1949).Abd. 1928 Abd. Press and Jnl. (15 Nov.) 6/3:
We didna get a verra gweed day, for it drabblet a' day aff an' on.

Hence drabbly, drabblichy, of the weather: showery, drizzly (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1940).Bnff. 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches 11:
The oongratefu' wretch, leavin's in a habble in the heid hurry o' the hey, efter siccan a drabbly simmer.
Abd.15 1928:
An unco drabblichy day.

II. n.

1. Usu. in pl.: spots of dirt, esp. drops of liquid food spilt while eating (Sc. 1825 Jam.2, dra(i)bles; Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Arg.1 1940; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 182).Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
“O fie! your frock's a' draibles,” or, “a' covered wi' draibles.”

Hence †draibly, (1) adj. spotted with draibles (Ib.); (2) n. a child's bib or feeder (Fif., Lth. Ib.).

2. “A small quantity of any liquid or semi-liquid substance; particularly food of an inferior kind” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff 40; Abd.9, Fif.10 1940).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41:
We jist got a drabblich o' soor milk-broth t' wir dainner.
Bnff.2 1940:
He got nithing bit a drabble o' soor milk till his parridge.

3. Refuse, trash, such as riddlings or anything too small for use (Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Ags. 1949 (per Abd.27); c.Per. 1909 “Scotus” in Scotsman (10 May), -ich).Fif. 1825 Jam.2:
The smallest kind of potatoes, not fully grown, are called mere drabloch. . . . The same term is applied to bad butcher-meat.

4. Fig “A person of dirty habits” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41; Gall. 1900 E.D.D.).

[Drab + -le, freq. or dim. suff.; cf. L.Ger. drabbeln, to splash, bespatter. For v., 3, cf. Sh. drabb, a drizzle (Jak.). Sense 4 of the n. is prob. influenced by Eng. drab, a slattern.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Drabble v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2023 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: