Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PICKLE, v.2 Also pukel (Sh.).

1. tr. or intr. and absol. To peck (up) repeatedly and delicately; of persons: to eat in a sparing way, nibble (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Phrs.: to pickle in one's ain pock-neuk, to rely on one's own resources, be self-supporting, independent (Ib.). In 1910 quot. used erron., = to go one's own way, “stew in one's juice”; to pickle oot o' ae pock, of a number of persons: to share a common means of livelihood, to live together (Ib.). See also Pock. Sc. 1706 Short Survey Married Life 10:
If she be a Lusty Vigorous young one, all Cork over, it's a hazard . . . she'll . . . set you the high way to the back of November to pickle Bird-Seed.
s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 325:
Robin Routh and Marion Mickle Wha baith contentetlie did pickle Out o' ae pocke.
Sc. a.1800 Young Hunting in Child Ballads No. 68. C. xii.:
Come doon, come doon, my pretty parrot, An pickle wheat aff my glue.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
Na, na, sir, we stand on our ain bottom — we pickle in our ain pock-neuk.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 147:
I'm forced to jouk, And pickle in the bachelor's bield, My ain pouk neuk.
Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 156:
It's a' yin to me — let them pickle in their ain pock neuk.

2. With up: to pick up, gather, acquire in small amounts or at odd moments. Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 56:
Jock had . . . pickl'd up some scrapes o' lair. Frae preachments an' life debonair.
Lnk. 1818 A. Fordyce Country Wedding 18:
Stop, bride, stop! it's your ain cottage door, See that the bread and the cheese be ready. Quick, get a napkin, her bonnet spread o'er, Grush goes the dreaming-bread; pickl't up, lady!

3. To steal small articles, pilfer, indulge in petty theft (Fif. 1825 Jam.). The usual form of the proverb in quot. reads picking. Cf. Pick, v.1, 2. Vbl.n. pukelin, petty theft (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). Sc. 1825 Jam.:
It occurs in the old Scots Proverb. “It's ill to be ca'd a thief, and aye found pickling”; i.e., it is a decisive proof against a man, if he is not only habit and repute a thief, but detected in many petty acts of theft.

[O.Sc. pykl, = 1., 1513. Freq. form of Pick, v.1]

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"Pickle v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 May 2021 <>



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