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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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. Also ppl.adj. fusslin.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.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 35:
Nae fusslin faither dells in the girse-choked yaird -
The human tenantry flitted awa langsyne.

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; Bnff., Ayr. 2000s).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.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 8:
... Miss Mathers cam inno the playgrun wi her siller fussle tae order aabody inno the skweel efter their brakk.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 17:
He wis as fu o music, Francie, as ony kist o fussles - his ficherin fingers an taes cud tap time tae ony tune like a metronome.

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"Fussle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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