Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GAVEL, n.1 Also gavil(l), ga(i)vle; gaevel, -il, gevel (I.Sc.), geevil (Cai.7), -le, †gavell, †gaval, †gavile, †gevil, †gyvel; also, esp. in ne.Sc., ga'el, ga'le, gell, gyle, geyl, ¶gehl, †gailt, ¶giyl (w.Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 348). See P.L.D. § 70.1. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. gable. [Sc. ′gevəl, but Ork. + gjevl, ne. and sn.Sc. + gel, gɛl, Cai. + ′givəl, ‡Fif., Dmf., Gall. + gəil; Rs. ′gəivəl]

1. (1) As in Eng., the triangular upper part of the end-wall of a building; the end-wall itself. Gen.Sc. Freq. used attrib. Also in n.Eng. dial. Abd. 1739 in Caled. Mag. (1788) 500:
And o'er fell he, maist like to greet, Just at the westmost gaill O' th' Kirk that day.
Ork. 1766 P. Fea MS. Diary (29 Oct.):
Loading Clay for the Gavels of the House.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 292:
I saw the deil i' the shape o' the auld laird . . . standin' on the gavel wa' wi' a great burnin' kipple in his hand.
Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy (1873) Intro. lxiii.:
My meikle tae is my gavil post, My nose is my roof-tree.
Dmb. 1846 W. Cross Disruption xi.:
Rubble wark is what they use for gavles.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vii.:
My mither had agreed wi' him to place the cruzie in the gavel winnock to guide him through the mire. [Ib. xxvii., geyl.]
Ags. 1892 Brechin Advertiser (7 June) 3:
They kent fu' weel that he cud pu' The ga'el out o' their kirk.
Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 346:
Mr Gibson wus preachin at the roadside again a hoose geyl. [Ib. 464, gyle.]
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr Aapril 25:
Da pör man's draain-room is at da gaevel o da hoose.
Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 35:
An' throu' the wee gell winnock aye Fu' bonnie mornin' broke.

(2) One of the side ropes of a herring net (Ork. 1929 Marw.; ne.Sc., Fif. 1954). Cf. 3. (3) below. Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (11 Dec.):
The wife's sittin' mennin' wi' Mary oor quine, . . . A net that's gey picky an' greedy for twine An' they're nae gettin' nearer the gaivle ava.

(3) One of the ends of a rectangular cornstack (Uls.4 1954).

2. Fig. uses: (1) the buttocks (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 58, gaivle; Bnff.7 1927); (2) the pudendum (Sc. 18th c. Merry Muses (1911) 55, 94; Ayr. 1786 Burns Ib. 132).

3. Phr. & Combs.: (1) gavel-en(d), (a) the end-wall of a building, the gable-end. Gen.Sc.; (b) = 2. (1) above (Gregor); †(2) ga'le-room, a room in the gable of a house; (3) gehl-rope, “the rope that runs along the [side] ends of a herring-net”(Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 61); cf. 1. (2) above; (4) to be like the gavel(-end) o' a hoose, to be of very stout and broad proportions (Abd.27, Kcb.10 1954, -end). (1) (a) Abd. 1766 Abd. Journal (28 July):
On Thursday afternoon, the gavel end of a house in the Gallowgate, adjoining to which a house was building, gave way and fell down.
Edb. 1795 H. Macneill Scotland's Scaith 12:
Up the gavel end thick spreading Crap the clasping ivy green.
Lnk. 1873 J. Hamilton Poems & Ballads 64:
Ae nicht, when stan'in at the door, I saw him comin' roun' The gavel-en'.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig i.:
There was a seat set on logs against the “geevle-en'” of Eben Reid's house.
Ags. 1896 Barrie Margaret Ogilvy ii.:
I cannot picture the place without seeing her, as a little girl, come to the door of a certain house and beat her bass against the gav'le-end.
Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 36:
Whisht! here comes a fit roun' the gale-en'.
(2) Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer x.:
They did not even look into the ga'le-room, not doubting that the dignity of the best bedroom was in no danger of being violated even by Robert.
(4) Abd.27 1920:
What a size that deem's growin'; she's like the gale o' a hoose.

[O.Sc. has gavil(l), gavel(l), geivel, etc., from 1387; O.N. gafl, gable, gable-end. The Eng. form is from O.Fr. gable, which is also from the O.N.]

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"Gavel n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Jun 2021 <>



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