Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KEVEL, n.1, v.1 Also kev(i)l, kevole, kefl, cavell, kaevel, kaivle, and vocalised form ‡kewl. [kevl, kɛvl]

I. n. 1. A twitch or rope-bit for an intractable horse (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Now obs. in this sense in Eng. Rxb. 1825  Jam.:
One who rides a horse, that is not under proper command, with a halter, when he brings the halter under the horse's jaws and makes it pass through his mouth, is said to put a kewl on.
Sc. 1871  P. H. Waddell Psalms xxxii. 9:
Be-na ye like naig or like mule . . . whase chowks maun be chackit wi' branks an' kewl.

2. A wooden bit or gag inserted into the mouth, to prevent a horse from eating grain (Ork. 1929 Marw.), or a lamb from sucking (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 121, 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1959). Ork. 1734  P. Ork. A.S. I. 65:
Three sufficient harrows and harrowing irons, . . . Eighteen Cavells.

3. A staff, cudgel. Sc. 1839  Wilson's Tales of the Borders (1888) VII. 23:
For ae stroke wi' this kevel at the head o' yon culroun caitiff o' an executioner.

II. v. 1. To fit a wooden bit into a lamb's mouth to prevent it from sucking (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 121, 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1959). Hence kevlin tree, = I. 1. (Ags. 1959); ¶2. to clench (between the jaws). 2. Wgt. 1804  R. Couper Poems II. 81:
A brankin' greyhound cam; And kevil't in his weel fang't jaws, A gusty bacon ham.

[Norw. kjevle, a cylindrical piece of wood, O.N. kefli, id., a stick, kefla, to gag (a lamb).]

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"Kevel n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Dec 2019 <>



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