Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FUSSLE, v.1, n.1 Also fus(t)le, †fusel. n.Sc. forms of Eng. whistle. See P.L.D. §§ 59, 134.

I. v. As in Eng. Hence fussler, a whistler. Abd. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 281:
He keeps a curn o' queynies and a wheen widdy-fu's, and gars them fussle, and loup, and mak murgeons, to please the grit fowk.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 180:
The “gaadman” usually whistles to cheer the brutes in their work. Hence the proverb to signify that much exertion had been made with poor results: — “Muckle fuslan an little red-laan.”
Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 5:
'Ey cried an' 'ey fustled.
Abd. 1934 D. Scott Stories 70:
Eh, sic a bonny fussler — jist like a mavis.

Phr. and combs.: 1. fusslebare, n., an epithet for poor hilly ground in an exposed situation (Abd.15 1880; Abd.27 1953). Sometimes found as a nickname for a farm in such a spot (Abd. 1953); ‡2. fusslin Sunday, the Fast Day, the day of the pre-Communion service (Bnff., Abd. 1930); †3. fusslt-ower, of a woman, seduced. See also quot.; 4. to fussle fair out, to speak one's mind, to be candid. Hence fussle-fair-out, attrib. phr., simple, straight-forward. 2. Bnff. 1860 Bnff. Herald (12 March 1949):
At a Communion season there was service on the preceeding Thursday and that was called the Fast Day: it was for preparation. We called it “Fustlin' Sunday,” for on it we were allowed to whistle, but not on a Sabbath day.
3. Abd. a.1897 Cal. Customs Scot. I. 68:
If in Corgarff all the crop is cut before St Michael's Fair, 29th Sept. it is called a “maiden gliack,” but if it is after this date the crop is cut, the “gliack” gets the name of “a fusslt-ower maiden” i.e. a whistled over, deluded, or betrayed maiden.
4. Abd. 1904 W. A. G. Farquhar Fyvie Lintie 129:
But ower a fussle-fair-out tune, . . . The fient a bird could ding or droon Wee Rory deid.
Abd.1 1929:
Nae beatin' aboot the buss noo, fussle fair oot, an' lat's hae the richts o't.

II. n. A whistle (ne.Sc. 1953). Abd. 1768 in A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 6:
And shepherd-lads, on sunny knows, Blaw the blythe fusle.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 45:
A mither's diddlin', till her bairn can bring The sleep that flees fae fussle, trumpe or string.

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"Fussle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Jun 2021 <>



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