Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GABERLUNZIE, n. Also gaberlun(y)ie, -loon(z)ie, -loony, -linzie. [gɑbər′lʌnz, -′lɪnzi, orig. and prop. ‡-′lun(j)i]

1. A licensed or professional beggar; cf. Blue gown. In later use: a travelling tinker, a beggar in gen. (wm.Sc.1 c.1905, -linzie; Bnff.2, Abd.2 1945); a ne'er-do-well (m.Dmf.3 c.1920). Also attrib. and fig. Now only liter. or arch. Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T. Misc. (1733) I. 86:
For she's be burnt, and he's be slain, The wearifu' gaberlunzie man.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary vii.:
Here or yonder — at the back o' a dyke, in a wreath o' snaw, or in the wame o' a wave, what signifies how the auld gaberlunzie dies?
Lth. 1825 Jam.:
Gaberlunyie-man. By some of the peasantry in Loth. this term is still used; but confined to a Bluegown, or beggar who wears the king's badge, and pronounced, according to the erroneous orthography, Gaberlunzie.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd i. ii.:
Blithesome harvest laid down her apronful of sheaves at the barn-door: and the gaberloony winter arose from the chumly-lug and hirpled o'er the hill.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet Intro. 12:
Believing that a Gaberlunzie cannot knock in vain at the door of a Scottish heart, we have ventured to bespeak a kind reception for his lyart locks and his furrowed brow.
Rxb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 351:
A day's begging in Kelso was, in the hands of “a canny gaberlunzie,” worth “good 14s.”
Ags. 1861 R. Leighton Poems 32:
'Twas the auld gaberlunzie lay dead in the snaw!
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 138:
Wi' that he cast aff the wallets an' his gaberloonzie cloak.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xxxii.:
We shelter nae lazy gaberlunzie speldrons in the house of Cassillis.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 4:
A gey auld gaberlunzie man, Sair pauchled wi' muckle toil.
Fif. 1950 Scots Mag. (Oct.) I:
The famous fairs of Anstruther and St Andrews were rendezvous for the packmen and gaberlunzie men who set out from Fife to sell their commodities all over Scotland.

In comb. gaberlunzie man, a game (see quot.). Sc. c.1886 in Observer (21 Dec. 1936) 9:
My grandfather (born in 1806) amused us at Christmas with a game . . . called “The Gaberlunzie Man.” The players, seated in a semi-circle, each went through the motions of playing a different musical instrument, generally with considerable gusto and extravagance. They could choose anything save the fiddle, which was played by the “Gaberlunzie Man” as he stood at the centre. . . . Suddenly he would change from the fiddle to an instrument of one of the players, who would then immediately take to the fiddle. . . . It must be an old game, for my grandfather told us that his mother (born in 1786) was taught it by her grandfather.

2. Transferred uses: †(1) a wallet or bag carried by beggars (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 217); ¶(2) a beggar's blue gown. (2) Ayr. a.1878 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 190:
“Is that your gaet, ye greedy grew? Then tak' my gaberlunzie too.” He lows'd a buckle, drew a brace, An' flang the rauchan in his face.

3. The song “The Gaberlunzie Man” (see Ramsay T.T. Misc.). Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds iii.:
Luggie o' Dramkeg was singing the Gaberloonie like a nightingale.

[O.Sc. has gaberlungy, = 1., 1649, but the word appears to occur first in 1508 as a nickname in the form Gabirlenzeis. Of obscure origin.]

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"Gaberlunzie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Aug 2020 <>



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