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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MILL, n., v. Also Sc. forms mul(l), with dims. millie, mullie (ne. and wm.Sc.); mil(l)n(e), mylne. [mɪl, mʌl]

I. n. 1. Combs.: (1) elf mill, see Elf, (10); (2) mill band, the driving belt of a spinning wheel; (3) mill-bannock, a round oatmeal cake (see 1824 quot.), esp. one made at a melder and given to the mill-servants as a perquisite or to a poor person. See Bannock, 2.; (4) mill-bitch, a bag set by the miller in a position to receive some of the customer's meal which was secretly diverted into it. Cf. Black Bitch; (5) mill-boy, a lad employed to assist at a mill in loading and unloading customers' corn (Kcb. 1962); (6) mill-büdie, see Buddie; (7) mill-burn, a stream used to drive a mill; (8) mill-cap, the wooden vessel with which a miller measured his dues of meal and husks. See (40) and Cap, n.; †(9) mill-capon, a poor person who sought alms of a handful of meal at a mill; (10) mill-carry, a mill-dam which controls the flow of water into the mill stream. See Carry, n.2; (11) mill-caul, -call, a mill dam (Kcb. 1962). See Caul, n.1; (12) mill-claise, a miller's or factory hand's working clothes; †(13) mill-clap, the clapper of a mill. See Clap, n.1, 5. Phr. to have a tongue like a mill-clap, to chatter incessantly (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.); (14) mill-cloose, the sluice of a mill (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 341). See Cloose, n.; (15) mill-cog, = (8). See Cog, n.1, 2.; (16) mill-coorse, the circular path trodden by the horses driving a threshing mill (Ork. 1962). Cf. (26) (i); (17) mill-dish, = (7); †(18) mill-dozen, every thirteenth peck of grain milled, payable to the owner of the mill (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Hist.; (19) mill-dues, dues payable by the tenants of an estate to the estate miller for grinding their corn. See Sequels; (20) mill dumper. a factory worker (Ayr., Dmf. 1962, Edb. 1964 J. T. R. Ritchie Singing Street 8.); (21) mill-ee, ¶mully, the orifice which conveys meal from the mill-stones to the meal-bin; less freq., the hole in the runner-stone which receives the grain from the hopper. Also used by synecdoche = the whole mill and pertinents (Kcd. 1825 Jam.). Hence phr. hot from the mill eye, freshly made (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.); (22) mill-fever, an illness due to the bad conditions in overcrowded factories; (23) mill-firlot, a peck measure used as in (8); (24) mill-fish, the turbot, Rhombus maximus (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1899 Evans & Buckley Fauna Shet. 228, 1932 J. Saxby Trad. Lore 201, Sh. 1962); or the plaice, Pleuronectes platessa (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 145), their shape being somewhat reminiscent of a mill-stone; (25) mill-fud, shoddy, the waste material from carded flax. Cf. tow-fud s.v. Tow. Given also as a contemptuous designation for a mill-girl (Abd. 1903 E.D.D.), phs. by association with Fud, n.1, 3.; (26) mill-gang, (i) the circular path trodden by the horses harnessed to the driving beam of a threshing mill. Cf. (16); the hexagonal or pentagonal building in a farm-steading which formerly housed the driving apparatus of a horse-driven threshing mill (Cai., em. and s.Sc. 1962): (ii) weaving: see quot.; (27) mill-gau(l)t, a young pig or castrated boar paid to a miller by the tenants of an estate as part of his perquisites (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 180, -gaut). See Gaut, n. and (52); (28) mill-graith, the equipment or gear of a mill; (29) mill-grøt, -groot, -grud, a coarse-grained stone suitable for making a millstone (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1962). See Grüt; (30) mill-gruel, see milk-gruel s.v. Milk, n., 1. (17); (31) mill-haave, a vessel for measuring the shelled grain in a mill (m.Lth. 1825 Jam.); (32) mill-hand, see quot.; (33) mill-happer, the hopper of a mill (I.Sc., Bnff., Abd., Kcb. 1962). See Happer. Also fig., a garrulous, chattering person; (34) mill-lade, -ledd, -lead, a channel leading water to a mill, a mill-race (Uls. 1873 N. & Q. (Ser. 4) XII. 479). See Lade, Lead. Gen.Sc.; (35) mill-lavers [levers], the beams to which the horses which drove a threshing mill were harnessed (Ork., ne.Sc. 1962); (36) mill-lichens, “the entry into the space where the inner wheel revolves” (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); prob. more correctly, the levers in the pit of the mill which adjust the mill-stones. See Lichten, v.2; (37) mill-lin, a mill-pool. See Linn, n.1, 3; †(38) mill maiden, the maidservant at a mill who sifted the meal; †(39) mill-master, a miller; †(40) mill peck, a peck measure used by millers for measuring the shelled grain which was their due, popularly supposed to be liberally constructed to their own advantage; †(41) mill-pot, the part of the water-channel below a mill-wheel; †(42) mill-pound, a mill-dam. Also in Eng. dial.; †(43) mill-reek, a disease to which lead workers were subject, arising from the poisonous fumes of the smelting furnaces. Also in n.Eng. dial.; (44) mill-rent, dues paid to the mill on a landed estate; †(45) mill-rind, mullrin, as in Eng., the iron which supports the upper millstone of a corn-mill, extended in Sc. to mean the wooden cup surmounting the lid of the old-fashioned plunge-churn, the Gockie (Abd.13 1910, mullrin); (46) mill-ring, the space between the revolving millstones and the wooden kerb or casting which surrounds them (Sc. 1825 Jam.); the meal which remains in the ring without falling into the bin, regarded as the miller's perquisite (Ib.); the dust of a mill (n.Sc. 1808 Ib.); (47) mill-rink, = (26) (i) (Bnff., Per., Kcb., Dmf. 1962); (48) mill-seeds, the husks of corn with particles of meal adhering to them (Ork., Kcb. 1962). See Seed; †(49) mill-services, certain tasks in connection with a mill (see 1732 quot.) laid on the tenants within the Sucken as part of their rent; (50) mill-shilling, the shelled grain expelled from the mill after the first grinding (Ork., Kcb. 1962). See Sheel; (51) mill-sookened, of tenants on an estate: obliged to grind their corn at the estate mill (Ork. 1922 P. Ork. A. Soc. 29). See Sucken, v.; (52) mill-sow, a sow provided by the tenantry of an estate as their miller's due. Cf. (27); (53) mill-spout, a waterfall used to drive a mill; (54) mill-stane, -steen (n.Sc.), a mill-stone; (55) mill-stead, the ground and buildings comprising a mill. See Stead; †(56) mill-steep, a lever used to adjust the distance between the upper and lower mill-stones (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (57) mill-stew, the dust of a mill (Sc. 1808 Jam.). See Stew; (58) mill-stool, the non-moving parts of a mill, the fixtures, the lying or standing graith. See Graith, II. 4.; (59) mill-swee, the pivoted beam of a horse-driven threshing mill (Ayr.4 1928); (60) mill-swine, a pig given as a due to the miller, later applied to a particular type of pig (see 1845 quot.). Cf. (27) and (52); (61) mill-thoomie, the miller's thumb, or bull-head, Cottus gobio; (62) mill-timmer, a stout wooden beam or spar used as a prop in a mill; (63) mill-toon, milton, milltun, the buildings comprising a mill. See Toun. Now very freq. in place-names of the farm adjacent to a mill and tenanted by the miller or of a hamlet which has grown up round a mill, e.g. Milton of Campsie, Milton of Clova, Whins of Milton; (64) mill trow(se), -trough, the wooden conduit carrying water to a mill-wheel (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 341). Also in n.Eng. dial. See trow s.v. Troch, n.1 2; (65) mill wand, milwand, a stout spar pushed through the central hole of a mill-stone and used to trundle it along. As the spar was of a convenient standard length, it was used as a rough lineal measure; (66) mill-yins, factory workers (Edb., s.Sc. 1962); (67) mill yowther, a corruption of mill-lowther, mill-lowder, a wooden spoke for levering a mill-stone. See Lewder.(2)Per. 1897 C. R. Dunning Folk Lore 4: 
We aye tuk the millband aff our spinnin' wheels afore we creepit, drummelt wi' sleep, intae the box-beds.
(3) Ork. 1773 P. Fea MS. Diary (10 Jan.):
Pay'd Geo Drummond for grinding the above Victual 6 Sh Sterling in lew of his Miln bannock.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 341:
Millbannock — A circular cake of oatmeal, with a hole in the centre; it is generally a foot in diameter, and an inch in thickness; it is baked at mills, and haurned or toasted on the burning seeds of shelled oats, which makes it as brittle as if it had been baked with butter.
Uls. 1920 H. S. Morrison Modern Uls. 55:
When a farmer got his “melder” of meal home . . . a peck or so of the meal was given to a poor person, as this was thought to be lucky and was called a “mill bannock”.
(4) s.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Mill-Bitch. This is a cant term, originally invented by the miller for concealment; as he was wont to say to his knave or servant, in allusion to the use of a dog, Hae ye set the bitch?
Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.:
Once when a farmer came with a “melder”, the miller was taking him away to pree some “peat reek”, but had not had time to make the theftuous arrangement. At the door he called back to his prentice. “See that ye lat lowss the [mill-] bitch to let her get a feed.” The lad understood.
Rnf. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 221:
A small pock or bag — the “mill-bitch” — hung up clandestinely to receive . . . meal for their own [millers'] profit.
(5) Inv. 1744 Session Papers, Schaw v. Robertson (20 Feb.) 2:
The Privilege demanded of the Suckeners putting in a Mill-boy, and the Complaint, that instead of a Mill-boy, who could assist the Suckeners in laying on their Loads, the Pursuers employ only a serving Maid.
(7) Fif. 1843 A. Bethune Peasant's Fireside 111:
The mill from which the mill burn . . . sweeped nearly half round the village.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (19 March):
The millburns, and the quaintly diminutive native mills, working horizontally.
(8) Sc. 1762 Session Papers, Petition J. Ballantyne (9 Aug. 1763) 22:
When James Ballantyne left the mill of Camp, he left there the fanners, mill-cap, mill-firlot and sieve.
(9) Sc. 1827 G. R. Kinloch Ballads 23:
Hoch! had I drank the well water, Whan first I drank the wine, Never a mill-capon Wad hae been a love o' mine.
Ib. 30:
A mill-capon was a designation given to a poor person who sought charity at mills from those who had grain grinding. The alms were usually a gowpen or handful of meal.
(10) Inv. 1766 Session Papers, Gordon v. Fraser (13 Jan.) 20:
When the water is at its lowest, and the mill-carries all shut.
(11) Dmf. 1775 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (18 April):
The House commands a fine prospect of the river Nith, with the Bridge and fall of water over the Mill-caul.
Bwk. 1834 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club XI. 61:
Near the mill-call above Huttonhall Mill.
(12) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 159:
I pat on my mill-claise, and gaed oot.
(13) Bnff. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIII. 389:
The session took up a case of witchcraft against a woman, upon an accusation, that, as often as she passed the door of the Earl's mill, the mill-clap stopped.
(15) Sc. 1753 Session Papers, Blain v. Ferguson (3 Feb.) 7:
The Payment of three Mill-Cogfuls of sifted Meal . . . three Quarters of Meal by the Mill-Cog.
(16) Bnff.2 c.1920:
Yon beast wis a rais't broot, an' we cud hardly get 'im to bide on the mull-coorse.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 28:
A circle nae muckle bigger nor ma ain mull coorse.
(17) Bwk. 1758 Session Papers, Lumisdaine v. Fiar (5 Jan.) 21:
They paid only one Peck for five Firlots of Shealling, and a Mill Dish of Meal for every Load of Oats, and three Dish-ful of Corn for the Boll of humel Corn.
Bwk. 1768 Session Papers, Petition J. Bogue (29 June) 31:
When he came to the mill, there was no measure but an old mill dish.
(19) Rnf. 1880 W. Grossart Shotts 220:
“Mill-dues” and “sequels” were a social evil, leading to frequent quarrels between the miller and the inhabitants.
(21) Sc. 1755 Session Papers, Earl of Breadalbane v. Macnab (9 July) 20:
A lippie out of the Boll, as the same after grinding falls from the Mill-eye.
Bwk. 1800 R. Romanes Lauder (1903) 130:
[Dimensions of new mill-stones] “Runner” mean of three measure at the rim, or edge, 10¾ inches; “Quiescent” or “Lyer,” 7¼ inches at the rim; “Mully”, 13 31/32 of a Scotch pint, 7½ inches diameter within at the mouth.
Slk. 1804 Hogg Poems (1874) 65:
A doolfu' voice came frae the mill-ee.
Sh. 1822 Scott Pirate xi.:
A . . . seemly baron's mill . . . that casts the meal through the mill-eye by forpits at a time.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 345:
The shelled grain which runs out of the mill-e'e.
(22) Ags. 1850 J. Myles Dundee Factory Boy 24:
The cause of this sickness, which is known by the name of the “mill fever”, is the pestiferous atmosphere produced by so many breathing in a confined place, together with the heat and the exhalations of grease and oil.
(23) Bwk. 1768 Session Papers, Petition R. Robertson (11 July) 11:
A mill firlot holding two Berwick pecks.
(25) Ags. 1899 J. Colville Vernacular 41:
A day in prosaic Dundee among “mill-fuds” and “corks”.
(26) (i) Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 30:
The stem of this solitary forest-monarch was four feet in diameter, clear and beaten round the root by the cattle, like a mill-gang.
(ii) Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Weaving i. 39:
The quantity of yarn wound upon the mill, in going from the upper to the lower pins and returning, is generally called by warpers a mill gang, or bout.
(27) Cai. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 524:
Meat and teind geese, meat swine, and mill gault.
(28) Ags. 1754 Arbroath T.C. Minutes MSS. (30 Aug.):
The Purchaser of the set shall receive the millgraith and other Implements by Appretiation.
Bnff. 1766 Caled. Mercury (19 Nov.) 555:
The whole house and mill-graith (except the outer wheel).
(29) Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 17:
Shapin oot a millgroot slab Ta mak a quern stane.
(32)Sc. 1804 A. Gray Experienced Millwright 44: 
A lever called the mill-hand. . . . By moving the longer arm of the lever W up or down the bridge-tree and upper mill-stone are either raised or depressed at pleasure according as the meal is wanted to be ground coarse or finer.
 (33) Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch ii.:
Playing as many pibrochs as would have deaved a mill-happer.
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 55:
Yer yatter, yatter, yattering millhapper o' a jaundiced tongue.
(34) Sc. 1700 Fountainhall Decisions II. 91:
An aqueduct or mill-lead running thro' his ground.
Dmf. 1758 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1928–9) 27:
To run from the mill-damm in a straight line on the south-east side of the mill-ledd.
Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 75:
Wee sykes a' jowin' like mill-lade.
Bwk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 II. 201:
On account of the constant liability of the Tweed itself to rise and fall mill leads are absolutely necessary.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 70:
I racken that, a'enoo, ilka drap water in Lossie is gaun intae the mill lead at Bishopmill.
Kcb. 1899 Crockett Anna Mark vii.:
The splash of the water tumbling from the wooden mill-lade or trough into the black pool beneath the great wheel.
Ags. 1931 M. Angus Turn of the Day 14:
Joan, Joan the bonnie maid, She rinses claes in the cauld mill-lade.
(35) Abd. 1868 G. Gall MS. Diary (19 Aug.):
The Wright was up painting the Mill-lavers.
Bnff.2 c.1920:
Een o' the pinggins o' the pit wheel brook, an' the mull-lavers cam tee on their heels.
(37) Per. 1755 Session Papers, Earl of Breadalbane v. Macnab (9 July 10):
Repairing the Mill-lin and Water-gangs thereof.
(38) Hdg. 1848 [A. Somerville] Autobiog. Working Man 44:
The miller kept a female servant, known as the “mill maiden” for sifting.
(39) Sc. 1740 Kames Decisions (1790) 24:
The mill-master, . . . carrying their corns to the mill, and furnishing them sieve, riddle and canvas.
Abd. 1811 G. Keith Agric. Abd. 506:
A number of the mill-masters apply the mill-ring . . . to the feeding of horses.
(40) Abd. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 117:
Another evil is, that there is a mill peck, which generally holds as much shealing as will grind to three and sometimes four pecks of meal.
(41) Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 267:
The awes of the wheels were not above three-eighths of an inch from the sole or bottom of the mill-pot.
(42) m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iv. ii.:
Thae lawlands are very bonny, wi' the laigh meadows, and bosky trees and waters as still as a mill-pound.
(43) Dmf. 1754 Scots Mag. (June) 287:
An account of the disease called mill-reek. By Mr J. Wilson, surgeon at Durrisdeer.
Lnk. 1774 T. Pennant Tour 1772 I. 130:
The miners and smelters are subject here [Leadhills], as in other places, to the lead distemper, or mill-reek as it is called here; which brings on palsies, and sometimes madness, terminating in death in about ten days.
Lnk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 VI. 335:
The men engaged in reducing the ores are occasionally seized with the painters' colic, or, as the smelters term it, “mill-reek”; but from the improved construction of furnaces, the disease is becoming less frequent.
(44) Sc. 1722 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 175:
Be sure you bring up with you a full and compleat rentall of all your estate, both victuall and money rent, miln rents, salmond fishing, and kens, and every thing else.
(45)Lnk. 1832 C. Thomson Lesmahagow Martyrs (1928) 26: 
Had not the millar of Mouse-mill . . . with the mill-rynd, felled him to the ground.
(46) Abd. 1811 G. Keith Agric. Abd. 506:
A number of the mill-masters apply the mill-ring, (i.e. the corn that remains about the mill-stones), to the feeding of horses.
Wgt. 1875 W. McIlwraith Guide Wgt. 136:
A workman, in making an excavation near the mill-ring, came on a large, flat stone, aneath which were the remains of a clay urn.
(47) Ayr. 1953 Ayrshire Post (28 Aug.):
This hexagonal building at Muirston Farm, Stair, originally thatched, was known as the Mill Rink. . . . Inside the building was a horizontal beam on which was mounted a crown wheel geared to a shaft which went underground to the adjacent barn and drove the mill. Harnessed to both ends of the beam were two horses (four h.p.) and pulled the beam round in a clockwise direction. . . . There are still a few mill rinks in existence but they are used to house farming implements.
(48) Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 44:
These shells, thus separated, and having the finer particles of the meal adhering to them, called mill seeds, are preserved for sowins.
(49) Sc. 1708 Morison Decisions 15999:
The defender's use of paying out-town multure only, without being liable to mill-services.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institute ii. ix. § 31:
In thirlage constituted by writing, mill services are always implied as an accessory without a special clause.
(52) Clc. c.1720 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 110:
From the lordship of Alloa: — Ducks, 42 at 5d each 1. Miln sow at 11s 1½d.
Sc. 1748 Caled. Mercury (5 Jan.):
The Lands and Barony of Charterhall . . . holding Blanch of the Crown . . . with a Mill-Sow, or 20 Marks. . . . All the Tacks, except one, are in Steelbow Straw.
(53) Sc. 1747 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 16:
I shall therefore only tell you one piece of Caroline Scot's conduct, by which you may judge of the rest, and it is his hanging up three men at a milnspout in Lochaber, two of them nam'd Smith, and the third Grant, after they had come and surrender'd their arms to him.
(54) Edb. 1720 A. Pennecuik Helicon 77:
Your just a Mill, your Mouths the Happer, Your Teeth the Mill-stains, Tongue the Clapper.
Sc. 1871 C. Gibbon Lack of Gold ii.:
That's all the length your learning helps you to see through a mill-stane.
Lth. 1897 P. H. Hunter J. Armiger 110:
I can see just about as faur into a millstane as ony o' my neebours.
Abd. 1922 Weekly Free Press (7 Jan.) 3:
We ha'e a mull-steen roon wir nain necks, as Scriptur' ca's 't.
(55) Dmf. 1812 W. Singer Agric. Dmf. 595:
He pays one hundred and fifty stone of oat-meal a-year as his rent, or feu-duty, for his mill-stead, with ground for a house and garden.
(58) Ags. 1754 Arbroath T.C. Minutes MSS. (30 Aug.):
The Purchaser of the set shall . . . uphold the same excepting only the Mill House and Mill Stool during the Tack.
(60) Edb. 1738 Caled. Mercury (28 Dec.):
Yearly free Rent £1495: 14: 8 4/5 Scots, consisting of . . . 6 Chickens at 1s. 4d. each, a Mill Swine at £6: 13.
Abd. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XII. 642:
The breed of swine has been much improved; for, instead of the high-backed, long-nosed, and strong-bristled animals, formerly known as “mill swine”, the pigs are now a short-legged cross from the continental breeds.
(61) Ayr. 1886 J. Meikle Lintie 131:
I know all about millthoomies (hard heads), dug fish, pan shells, cod, haddock.
(62) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 24:
My thee banes war then like milltimmers.
(63) Sc. 1708 Invercauld Rec. (S.C.) 83:
Charles Orak sum tym at the milltun of Lausie.
Sc. c.1800 Knight and Shepherd's Daughter in Child Ballads (1956) II. 471:
As they rade bye yon bonny mill-town.
(64) Sc. c.1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 205:
Ther was nae noise, but mill-trows roaring.
Knr. 1749 Session Papers, Harrower v. Horn (30 June) 16:
They paid a Peck for six Firlots of Multure to Millathort Mill, and was served of a Sieve and Riddel, with a Woman in the Mill-trough.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 58:
His wame caddled like onny mill trows.
(65) Ags. 1750 Meikle Miln Roup Roll MS.:
A Milwand and Reads . . . To said John Ogilvy Clockmiln. . . . 17s.
Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 251:
A road . . . the breadth of which was to be the length of a mill wand.
Sc. 1849 in Edb. Antiq. Mag. 55:
A mill-stone was conveyed from the quarry to the mill, by means of a rod, or beam of wood, called the “millwand”, which was thrust through the hole in the centre of the stone.
(66) Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 24:
The mills war skailin an the mill-yins war toavin hyimm.
(67) Sc. 1823 C. K. Sharpe Ballad Bk. (1880) xv.:
She took up the mill yowther, An' hat me on the showther.

2. Phrs.: (1) throo the mill, n., an ordeal, a searching examination, an exacting experience (ne.Sc., Ags., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1962); (2) to gang on like a tume mill, to chatter on without check or hindrance, in speaking (Ags., Per. 1962); (3) to keep the auld mannie's mill agaein', of skaters: to follow one another down a slide in quick succession, to “keep the pot boiling” (Ags. 1962); (4) to lat on the mill, to let loose the vials of one's wrath, to break out in reproof; (5) to let the multure be taken by [past] one's own mill, to fail to get one's dues, to fail to insist upon one's rights;  (6) to pick the mills, to recite a rhyme as a respiration test (see quot.); (7) to ring one's mill, to provide for one's needs, to satisfy. See 1. (46); (8) to spend a mill and a mains, to spend a large amount of capital, to fritter away a substantial income.(1) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xvi.:
Sandy gae the Lichtin' Committee an' the gutter-raikers a gey haf-'oor's throo the mill.
(2) Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 11:
They war gaun on leike a tuim mill.
(3) Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 74:
The way they “keepit the auld mannie's mill agaein'” on the slide, wearin' their tackets doon to the leather.
(4) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 101:
Aince she lats on the mill, she gars a' bodie shack i' thir sheen.
(5) Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. xvii.:
It's a sin and a shame if they should employ the tinkling cymbal they ca' Chatterby, and sic a Presbyterian trumpet as yoursell in the land . . . If ye will take a fule's advice ye winna let the multure be ta'en by your ain mill.
(6) Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 155:
If there was any tendency to shortness of breathing the patient was asked to “pick the mills”. This was done by repeating the following without drawing breath: Four-and-twenty millstanes hang upon a waa, He was a good picker that picked them aa: Picked ene, Picked twa . . . If the patient could pick eighteen to twenty-four mills, the breathing or lungs were supposed to be in a fairly good condition.
(7)m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 8: 
Tak it [a dram] up. A' that's in't 'ill ne'er ring your mill.

3. A threshing mill as opposed to one for grinding corn. Gen.Sc. See also Thrash.Sc. 1797 Encycl. Britannica XVIII. 507:
His mill thrashed 63 bolls in a day.
Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 404:
The steward undertakes the feeding-in of the corn, and has the sole control of the mill.
Abd. 1917 C. Murray Sough o' War 42:
An' fan a ruck gyangs throu' the mull, he's thrang at wispin' strae.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 35:
The mull cam' dirlin' throwe the closs an' i' the cornyard steid.

4. The barn in which a threshing mill operates.Abd. 1922 Banffshire Jnl. (26 Dec.) 3:
The men betook themselves to the “chaumer”, there to dress for the coming festival in the barn or “Mull” as it was actually known.

5. Used humorously: a pipe-organ (Abd. 1962).Abd. 1934 D. Scott Stories 76:
There wid be little fear o' onybody sleepin' in the kirk fin there's a mull like yon gaun.

6. A snuff-box, orig. one which incorporated a grinder for the tobacco (n. and em.Sc., Kcb. 1962), “a little engine after the form of a tap, which they carry in their pockets, and is both a mill to grind and a box to keep it in” (Sc. 1702 T. Morer Short Acct. 20).Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 87:
Scrapt haddocks, wilks, dulse and tangle, And a mill of good snishing to prie.
Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag. (1788) 499:
The pensy lads dosst down on stanes, Whopt out their snishin-millies.
Sc. 1771 T. Smollett Humphry Clinker Melford to Phillips, Oct. 3:
The Lieutenant pulled out, instead of his own Scotch mull, a very fine gold snuff-box.
Sc. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 133–4:
The luntin pipe, an' sneeshin mill, Are handed round wi' right guid will.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xii.:
Carry that ower to Mrs. Sma'trash, and bid her fill my mill wi' snishing.
Sc. 1859 J. Brown Rab and his Friends (1863) 8:
From a mull which may have been at Culloden, he took a pinch.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xvi.:
I observed many of them to bring out their mulls and share a pinch of snuff with him.
Sc. 1898 W. Sinclair Sc. Life & Humour 33:
“Tak' the sneeshin', mem, tak' the sneeshin'”, said the mull-holder in a hoarse whisper, “ye dinna ken oor minister; ye'll need it afore he's dune”.
Bnff. 1920 Banffshire Jnl. (14 Dec.):
Nae fenless scentit mixture fae a mull.

Phrs.: (1) to lid somebody's mill, see Lid, v.; †(2) to tine one's mill, to fail to keep pace with others in working, esp. in reaping (see quot.).(2) Bnff. 1782 Caled. Mercury (14 Aug.):
He wad na slouch, neit jake, na scouk, Neit tine his mill. It is said by the hooks in harvest, when the bandster falls behind with his work, that he tines, that is, loses his mill.

7. A small tin box, canister or lidded container, esp. one of the type for holding coffee, cocoa, etc. (ne.Sc. 1962). Deriv. mulfa', a tinful.Dmf. 1831 Carlyle Letters (Norton) I. 339:
Bring the flesh-brush . . . and the poor tin mull of tooth powder.
Mry. 1858 G. Mann Poems 43:
Well this is my granny's mull She got it for her specs to haud.
Abd.7 1925:
All sorts of goods are packed in tins which are commonly called “mulls”.
Bnff. 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel frae Hame 50:
He's aff noo tae howk for a mulfa' o' bait.

II. v. 1. As in Eng., to grind, crush in pieces. Phrs.: (1) to mill one out of a thing, fig., to persuade one to give a thing up by wheedling and artifice (Lth. 1808 Jam.); (2) to mill the crud, to cut a solid block of curd into small pieces by passing it through the crud-mill or curd-cutter (Arg.1 1937; Kcb. 1962).

2. In the ball game at Duns in Berwickshire: to drive the ball into one of the goals. See quot., Kirk, v.1, 3., and cf. kirk and (or) mill s.v. Kirk, n.1 II. 2.Bwk. 1834 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 44–5:
The game of the married men is to carry the ball into the church . . . The unmarried men endeavour to reach any mill in the parish, and put the ball into the hopper. In this way the three balls are played for successively. The person who succeeds in kirking or in milling — such are the phrases — the first or golden ball, receives from the ball-men a reward of 1s. 6d., for the second 1s., and for the third 6d.

[O.Sc. mulne-, a mill, from 1165, myl-, a.1400, O.E. mylen, Late Lat. molinum. The word has now lost its final -n, unlike kiln, where it is retained at least in spelling, but -n forms survive in the personal surname Milne [mɪl], esp. freq. in ne.Sc.]

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"Mill n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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