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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SHABBLE, n. Also shable. [ʃɑbl]

1. A curved sword, a sabre or cutlass; later “an old rusty sword” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Now only hist. Also attrib.Sc. 1716 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 604:
Upon searching of the said mow of corne they found ten guns and five shables quhich they seized on.
Sc. 1759 Session Papers, Mackenzie v. Scot (25 Jan.) 12:
One of the Party, whom the Deponent understood to be the Serjeant, had a Shabble or Cutlass.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
The shabble that my father the deacon had at Bothwell Brig.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck xiv.:
He pu'd up his bit shabble o' a sword an' dang aff my bonnet.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Men of Moss-Hags x.:
He would strike them on the face with the basket hilt of his shable.
Arg. 1912 N. Munro Ayrshire Idylls 30:
They stood, unbonneted about him, their hands in their shable hilts.

2. Fig. a little insignificant person or thing, a nonentity (Ags. 1825 Jam.).Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 296:
As if any woman of common sense would suffer such a shred, a shabble, a piper-looking sycophant to come near her.
Dmf. 1842 Carlyle Life in London (Froude 1884) I. 251:
May the devil and his grandmother fly away with your shabble of a Duke!

[O.Sc. schabill, = 1., 1667, ad. It. sciabla, a sabre, cogn. with Ger. säbel, Eng. †sable, id., and appar. ultimately of Polish orig. 2. may be different word. See note to Shab.]

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"Shabble n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Aug 2022 <>



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