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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-PIG, n. Also pirrlie-, pirl(e)y-, purl(e)y-, -ie-; perlie (Edb. 1910 Scotsman (9 Sept.)). A money-box, gen. circular in shape and made of earthenware, with a slot for inserting coins (n.Sc. 1825 Jam., Ags. 1910; Abd. 1931; Sh., Kcd., em.Sc.(a), Edb., Wgt. 1966), specif. one formerly in use by the Town Council of Dundee for collecting fines from absentee members (Sc. 1951 Daily Mail (25 April)). Also in reduced form pirlie, -y, id.Ags. 1799 J. Thomson Hist. Dundee (1847) 175:
Old women and children kept their pozes in their kist neuks and pirly pigs.
Ags. 1825 J. Ross Sermon, etc. 27:
A purley-pig Where I'll lay up for aye my money.
Bnff. 1831 Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1939) 33:
A new Tubb at 3/-. One Stone purly 4/-.
Ayr. 1879 R. Adamson Lays 142:
I slyly frae the pirley drew My hale estate.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xviii.:
I mind he broke open his pirly, . . . an' bocht a ha' penny worth o' something to ye every day.
Fif. 1895 G. Setoun Sunshine and Haar 7:
A wheen luck pennies for the bairns' purlies.
Sc. 1905 Athenaeum (28 Jan.) 118:
The pirley-pig or circular money-box pertaining to the Town Council of Dundee. This pewter money-box is in the shape of an orange or flattened globe, measuring 6 in. in diameter, and 3 in. in height. On one side is a money slit, and on the opposite side an opening through which an iron rod passes for security.
Sc. 1912 P.S.A.S. XLVI. 353:
Until thirty or forty years ago there was a good demand for modern pirlie pigs. Many were modelled like a chest of drawers, others like an old man, some like “a clockin' hen”. These were generally glazed brown. More artistic ones were in the form of apples and oranges, and were coloured like the natural fruit.
wm.Sc. 1928 J. Corrie Last Day 71:
He rushed to the dresser and violently shook the pirly pig. It rattled.
Ags. 1934 H. B. Cruickshank Noran Water 15:
Ye've riped the pirlie mony's the time Withooten ony skaith.

[O.Sc. pirrel pig, 1679, < Pirl, v., 1. (3), to extricate (sc. a coin) by a series of pokes and prods, + Pig, n.2, 1.]

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"Pirlie-pig n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Jun 2023 <>



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