Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HIRPLE, v., n. Also hirpel (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), herple (Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms 25). [′hɪrp(ə)l]

I. v. 1. intr. To walk slowly and painfully or with a limp, to hobble; to move unevenly, as a hare. Gen.Sc. Also used fig. Found also in Eng. dials. Ppl.adj. hirplin, limping, lame. Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 199:
He hirpled round to all the company, and wished them good-night.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 149:
When I the men at work espie, I'll hirple to the house.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 167:
Great feck gae hirpling hame like fools, The cripple lead the blind.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Holy Fair i.:
The hares were hirplan down the furrs.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 25:
Forth frae the whinny brae the maukin steals, Wi' hirplin step.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iii.:
God! she's in nae hurry . . . She hirples like a hen on a het girdle.
Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton I. ii. i.:
Up comes a decent, little auld manny, . . . riding on a bit broken-kneed hirplin beast of a Heeland powney.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig iii.:
Old Winter is hirplin' awa'.
Uls. 1897 A. M'Ilroy Lint in the Bell viii.:
Dannie would hirple into Andy's kitchen (he was a little lame).
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 114:
Another old woman, luggin' a teapot, hirpled into the room.
Rxb. 1912 Jedburgh Gazette (19 July) 3:
Maist o' them knock-neiy'd an splae-fitted, an' a' hirplin' an' limpin' as if they had a corn on every tae.
Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite iv.. 230:
Change that went on as a hirpling clock, with only benediction to ring at the end.
Arg. 1952 N. Mitchison Lobsters on the Agenda vi.:
I've seen him often enough hirplin' round, him and his stick.

Combs. and deriv.: (1) hirple-Dick, -dird, n., a halt or limping person (Cai., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1957). Cf. Cripple Dick s.v. Cripple; (2) hirple Doddie, id. (Abd.31 1957). Cf. (4); (3) hirplock, n.dim., id. (Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems Gl.; w.Sc. 1825 Jam.); (4) to hirple-daud, -dird, to walk with a pronounced limp (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., Add., -dird; Abd.7 1925, -daud). See Daud, Dird. (1) Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxiv.:
I'm but a hirple Dick, an' it maitters little aboot me.
Bnff.2 c.1928:
Come awa, hirple-dird; ye're takkin' yir ain time till't.

2. tr. To cripple or hamper (some project). Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 259:
They are never meant to hurt or hirple the open dealings, or control the enterpreeze, o' weel-daein', gude-payin', sensible, honest men.

II. n. A limp, the act of walking with a limp or unsteadily (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 226). Gen.Sc. Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 131:
Wi' hirple and whost, frae ingle-side.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd vii. i.:
Whose gallop was never better than a hirple.
Sc. 1856 Cockburn Memorials 119:
With a slow stealthy step — something between a walk and a hirple.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses xii.:
Lightening the dulness of the walk by slyly mocking the cripple's “hirple”.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 24:
Willie halted his hirple towards the door.

[Found in O.Sc. from c.1470. Phs. an emphatic altered freq. form of E.Mid.Eng. hyppe, to hop (see Hip, v.), imit. of a slower, more laboured movement. Cf. note to Hipple.]

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"Hirple v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2021 <>



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