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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PIRLIE, n. Also pirl(e)y, peerlie-, pe(a)rlie-, purlie. Anything very small (Lth. 1825 Jam.; Ork., Per. 1966), gen. used attrib. in combs. 1. pirrlie-wee, adj., tiny, “teeny-weeny” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff 127). Hence pirlie-weeack, a thing or person small of their kind (Ib.); 2. pirlie-winkie, -winkle, the little finger, the pinkie (Lth. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., peerlie-winkle; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Wgt. 1966). Also in curtailed form pirlie, perlie, id. (Jam.; Ags. 1966).2. Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. iv.:
Ye ken Tam could thrash you wi' his little pirlie.
Mry. 1827 T. Lauder Wolf of Badenoch II. xxvi.:
I wad follow thee to the very warld's end; troth, thou may'st e'en whirl me round and round with thy pirlywinky.
Fif. 1899 Proc. Philos. Soc. Gsw. XXXI. 39:
The little finger is the curnie, the pinkie or the pearlie.
Sc. 1903 R. Ford Children's Rhymes 10:
This is the man that tell't a', And puir Pirly winkie paid for a'.

[An extended sense of pirlie. dim. of Pirl, sc. a little curled thing.]

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"Pirlie n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Jun 2023 <>



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