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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

KNURL, n., v. Also knurle; (g)norle, knorle; knorlo; (Ork.). [(k)nvrl, (k)ncrl]

I. n. 1. A lump, clot, bump, protuberance (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 98, knorle; Ork., Cai., Ags., Lth., Kcb. 1960), a knot in string (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., knorl). Also dim. knorlag, nurlock (Sc. 1887 Jam.), a small lump or induration, as on the skin, and intensive forms knorlack, (k)norlick, norloc(k), a large lump or swelling, e.g. the result of a blow (Gregor; Mry.2 1930), a cyst, “growing on the head of some persons even to the size of an orange” (Sc. 1825 Jam., norloc), a chunk or hunk, as of cheese (Abd. 1960). Also in Eng. dial.Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 25:
I wat she rais'd a norlick on my crown, that was not well for twa days.
Abd. c.1782 Ellis E.E.P. (1889) V. 774:
His elbuck yarkit on a knorlick o' frostit yird.
Dmf. 1810 R. H. Cromek Remains 240:
Amang his curling haffet locks She knotted knurles three.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 200:
A lusty cudgel in my fist Will keep me free o' norlocks.
Ork. 1929 Marw. s.v. knurl:
Gied him a “kammo” on the heed, an' raised a knorlo.

Hence (k)norlie, gnorly, nurlie, adj., lumpy, knobbly, gnarled (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai. 1960), uneven, rough, ill-shaped (Cld. 1880 Jam.), fig. applied to a person of an awkward or cross-grained disposition (Ib.); knurld, gnarled, as of the hands (Ayr. 1960).Cld. 1880 Jam.:
Nurlie taes.
Sc. 1898–9 Royal Caled. Curling Club Ann. 152:
He rubbed his gnorly hands before the fire.

2. A knuckle (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Comb. knurl-bane, the knuckle-bone (Ib.).ne.Sc. 1994 Alastair Mackie in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 96:
And it cam to me ae Sunday lang syne, deein my stint at the waatchin, that the sinnens o your hand as they tichtent their strings and the fower knurls o your nieve banes grippin the pipe and the crookt jint o your first finger cuddlin it, were like a delta.

3. The wooden ball or piece of wood used in the game of knurls (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); in pl.: a game similar to cricket, in which a wooden knob or knurl is struck with a bat (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 128, 1866 Edm. Gl.), a kind of shinty.

4. Fig. A deformed person, a dwarf (w.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ayr.4 1928). Also in Eng. dial. See also Nirl.Ayr. a.1796 Burns Meg o' the Mill (Second Set) ii.:
The laird was a widdifu', bleerit knurl — She's left the guid fellow, and taen the churl!
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce II. ix.:
He's a bauld, beardie boddie, Francie, knurl as he is in bane and bouk.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. x.:
An I havena some fun wi' this widdifu' knurle of a bodie.

Deriv. knurlin, id. (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Also used attrib.Ayr. 1791 ? Burns Pastoral Poetry iii.:
Wee Pope, the knurlin, till him rives Horatian fame.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 5:
She winket aye, and hoastit aye, For me to tent the knurlin.
Hdg. 1885 J. Lumsden Rhymes 112:
Kyley, Kyley! saxteen pund for thae knurlin' creatures. Hoot awa!

II. v. To strike so as to raise a lump (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 227, knorle, also intensive form knorlack); to rise in lumps (Ayr.4 1928).

[Dim. form of Knur.]

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"Knurl n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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