Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PALL, n., v. Also paut, pawl; paal(l)(e); ¶pale. Intensive vbl. form ¶pallach.

I. n. 1. A pole, a stout post, a beam (n.Sc. 1808 Jam., paal); a pillar (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., paal); a mooring post for ships, a stanchion, bollard (n.Sc., Ayr., Kcb. 1965); a wedge in mining props (Fif. 1964). Ags. 1717 R. Finlayson Arbroath Documents (1923) 26:
Bringing home one of the Ocken Palls belonging to the good toune from Carnoustie.
Gsw. 1721 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 112:
To build up what part of the key is to be mended . . . and place or fix therein three palls, the wright work thereof being prepared or finished to their hand.
Bte. 1766 Rothesay T.C. Rec. (1935) II. 905:
¥2. 5 [paid] for the three timber palls next the outter end of the pier.
Dmf. 1788 Dmf. Weekly Jnl. (17 June):
The Town of Dumfries having resolved to erect Eight Pales at Carse-thorn, for moving of vessels there.
Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 128:
Several palls of wood for vessels to make fast to, have been put in the beach by the town of Dumfries.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 143:
A vessel came in a'tween the heads — they threw ashore a rope around the pall.
wm.Sc. 1906 H. Foulis Vital Spark i.:
He had turned round on the pawl he sat on.

2. A post or large stone formerly set at the edge of a pavement, at the foot of a tree etc., to provide protection from carriage wheels. Also pawl-stone, id. Sc. 1753 Forfeited Estate Papers (S.H.S.) 28:
The Account of Charles Mack, mason, was for work done in Nov. 1743, viz. to Lord Lovat's proportion of pavement, Palls, Gutter stones, etc.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 151:
A pawl-stone should be placed on each side of every pillar.

3. A prop or stay, a support, a fixed point for the application of leverage, a fulcrum (n.Sc. 1825 Jam., paul; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1965). Also fig.; specif. a wooden strut fixed across the bottom of a rowing boat for the rower to brace his feet against (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 170; Ork. 1929 Marw.). Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 142:
He ever wis yir paul an' rock, Frae witches, warlocks, an' sic trock.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 38:
[Sheu] set de sae-tree for a pall at de back o' the door.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Paal . . . [used] of any firm rest in which to plant one's heel in tugging or pulling; e.g. of a hollow in which to plant one's heel in a tug-of-war.

4. A puzzle, problem, a “poser”, sc. something which brings one to a standstill (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122; Abd.13 1909). Cf. II. 2.

II. v. 1. To plant (oneself, one's feet. etc.) against a fixed point, to bring leverage to bear (Sh. 1965). Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 589:
Hee wiz staandin wee hiz feet paald fornent a brugg, a lokkin da rüll aboot da kraig.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 133:
Tae pall he glomered for a steul.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (24 Nov.):
I pall'd me fit at da wa', an', trow put an' row, I got his mooth open'd.
Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 135:
I pall'd mesel' at da mast upright.
Sh. 1950 New Shetlander No. 20. 32:
Shü [a cow] pawled her feet fur a meenit dan ane o' da flitmen twisted her tail an' dat did da trick.

2. (1) To puzzle, perplex, nonplus, baffle, thwart (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 170, 1866 Edm. Gl.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122; I.Sc., Cai., Mry. 1965), intensive form pallach, id. Also in colloq. or slang Eng. Deriv. pauler, n., a puzzle, a “poser”, a knock-out blow, a “floorer”. Phr. no (muckle) paaled, not put out, indifferent (Cai. 1965). Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 55:
Some bit boxie wi' a puzzlin' kick, That pauls the lasses to get aff the sneck.
Gsw. 1858 People's Jnl. (10 April) 2:
“He's no deaf, guid be thankit.” This was an awfu' pauler to Mrs Mucklejohn, for it seems Mr Mucklejohn is very dull o' hearing, an' it's keepit a great secret.
Ags. 1861 Arbroath Guide (19 Oct.) 3:
Fat he cud be doin wi' Jessie's bed-gown raither paals me.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 37:
On leather he could cipher wi' an awl, And reckon counts a dominie micht paul.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 18:
Johnnie, for ance ye're fairly palled. An' ye sit lang there ye'll no' be cauld.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 24:
Aft it paals me atagedder, Tinkin what ye mean ava.
Ags. 1894 J. Inglis Oor Ain Folk 25:
He [Duke of Edinburgh] fired very widely at a small herd of deer some distance away. Poor old Jeems, inly disgusted, but wishing to be complimentary . . . observed: “Ay, yer Richteousness! but ye've pallached the snoots o' thae yins.”
Cai.4 1920:
I'm no muckle paaled about hid.
Sh. 1933 J. Nicolson Hentilagets 16:
Dat's guddiks'at I ken mysel, Paals mony a wiser haed as mine.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick ii.:
Come awa in by, than, Mains, an' see fat ye mak oot o' this. A waager A've something 'at 'll paal ye.

(2) to exhaust physically, wear out, drain of energy, esp. in ppl.adj. palled (Slk. 1965).

3. In a weaker sense: to surprise, astonish (Sh., Ork., Bnff. 1965). Ork. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 31:
Whin dey cam tae da Hillock dey waar palled tae see 'er stan apen an' da ferries dancan.
Ork. 1929 Peace's Almanac 137:
Am keppid id [hair] weel kaimed, an du wad be paaled foo feou greybacks I tak' oot o'd.

4. To exceed, surpass, go beyond (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 122) in to pall aa, to beat everything (I. and ne.Sc. 1965). Bnff. 1880 Jam.:
That pauls a'.
Abd.7 1925:
A word used to denote that one excels or goes beyond the ordinary in some respect. And we hear that “he pauls a' for heid learnin'” or he “pauls a' in coorseness.”

5. To score a hit at marbles (Rxb. 1965). Phs. a different word.

[A variant of naut. Eng. pawl, a bar used to lock a capstan or winch, to check, bring to a halt, from which the vbl. usages are derived; Fr. pal, Du. pal, Lat. palus, a stake, prop, stay. The form pale, in 1788 quot. under I. 1., if not a misprint, may be Eng. pale, a stake, of the same orig.]

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



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