Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PICKLE, n.1, v.1 Also pichle (Kcd. 1958 Mearns Leader (19 Sept.)). Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in colloq. Eng., a plight, predicament. Also pickalty, picklety, picktelie [sic] (Abd. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Ayr. 1965), peklty; pickloo (Ork.), id., the state of mind brought about by this, a state of anxiety or panic. Sh. 1898  Shetland News (29 Oct.):
Da alilambs wis a' abune da lambhoos, doo needna be in ony peklty aboot dem.
Sh. 1918  T. Manson Peat Comm. 81:
Noo' here was a pickalty. Dir wisna wan eetemtation o fresh maet in da habitation.
Ork. 1931  Orcadian (7 May):
Divity waas i' a pickloo an' dat gluffed aboot 'is horse.

2. An elaborate and demanding piece of work, a fiddling, awkward job (wm.Sc. 1965). Cf. Picher. Kcd. 1958  Mearns Leader (19 Sept.):
“It's a terrible pichle o' a bizness this,” says the swettin' Smith, as he sclappert a brushfu' o' the fancy paste ontill anither length o' the back o' the paper.

3. Dim. picklie, a clown in a circus (Mry. 1930), a reduced dim. form of Eng. pickle-herring, id.

II. v. 1. To involve (one) in difficulty, get one into a plight. Abd. 1894  J. A. Jackson Old Stories 100:
Tell 'im [doctor] 'at A've gotten a tribble it'll pickle 'im tae tak' oot o' me noo.

2. Deriv. pickler, anything good or outstanding of its kind, a “sizzler”, “smasher”. Cf. Palmer, n. Ags. 1900  Arbroath Guide (13 Jan.) 4:
I promised to come to see a new canary he's bocht — a real pickler.

[It is doubtful whether all the meanings belong to the same word. n. 2. may be simply a variant of Picher, and v. 1. of Fickle.]

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"Pickle n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



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