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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

GRUEL, n. Sc. usages. Also Sc. forms growl, grool; grooel (Sh. 1898 Sh. News (12 Feb.), gruul), †grole.

1. Porridge (Abd. 1825 Jam., grole; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Ork. 1955). Now I.Sc. only. Comb. gruel-tree, a wooden stick for stirring porridge, a spurtle (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., ‡Sh. 1954).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (29 Oct.):
Mansie niver laeked gruul in his life.
Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. ii. 68:
Billy . . . told how he in one puir year “. . . pat hid tae the mill, tuik hid hame an' Malloo (his wife) sifted hid an' blamedy ting he hed bit tree gruels an' a half.”
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 123:
Shü steer'd i' da broth wi' da grueltree.
Sh. 1954 New Shetlander No. 40. 10:
He wis new feeneeshed a truncher a gruel wi a aer a traekil ta slidder hit doon wi.

Hence gruel(l)y, adj., porridgy (Sh. 1955), in comb. gruel(l)y-belkie, the nickname given to a male inhabitant of the island of Sanday (Ork. 1922 P. Ork. A.S. I. 28, grueli-, Ork. 1955). Freq. contr. to gruelly (Ork.1). For belkie, see note to Belget.Ork. c.1893 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 302–3:
The gentlemen of Sanday were specially famous because of the capacity they had for consuming whisky, and they generally wound up their festivities with a mixture of boiling water, oatmeal, and strong spirits. This failing of theirs came to be so well known that they were at length named “gruelly-belkies” — a cognomen which has stuck to the natives of that island to the present day.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 320:
Tell 'im gin 'e winna voo tae hae wir dialec ta't i' the skeuls, there's naither a stirlin', . . . gruely belkie, . . . mare or bluidy puddin 'll vote for 'im.

2. Oatmeal food, food in gen. (Ork., m.Lth. 1955).Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past & Present 150:
“Faar's my growl?” said Hirdy Dirdy. “It's sitting there i' the bowl, the black chucken and the grey hae been peckon amon't a' the day.”
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 15:
The Laird o' Pitsnottie's a denty auld sowl, He'll help ye a lot gin ye gi'e him his growl.

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"Gruel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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