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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SKIDDLE, v.1, n. Also variants skittle, skytle. [skɪdl]

I. v. 1. tr. To splash (a liquid), to squirt water about, cause a small splash or splutter, to spill, to dabble or potter in an aimless sort of way like a child playing with water (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) § 85; Mry., m.Sc. 1970). Ppl.adj. skiddlin, ¶skittling, splashing, watery, wishy-washy, insipid; vbl.n. skittling, “the feminine practice of washing stockings, handkerchiefs and “smalls” in the bedroom or bathroom wash-basin in hotels” (Sc. 1920 Partridge Slang Dict.); agent n. skiddler, a small fish, as a minnow or stickleback, a tiddler (Ags. 1970).Edb. 1828 M. & M. Corbett Tales & Leg. III. 149:
Ye skiddled some soup on't [coat].
wm.Sc. 1917 H. Foulis Jimmy Swan 281:
Tea at the best's a skiddlin' thing ye tak' to wash doon breid and butter.
Gsw. 1929 D. Allan The Deans x.:
When he yearned for a satisfying high tea, a lot of skittling wee dishes were set before him.
Ayr. 1928:
Dinna skiddle the milk.
wm.Sc. 1946:
He skiddles his tea intae his saucer every time he stirs his cup. She couldna wash twa fingers without skiddlin the hail fluir.
Gsw. 1953 Evening Times (10 June) 2:
An' me that fond o' skiddlin' aboot.
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 27:
The wean's ben the scullery skiddlin in the sink. The child is through the kitchen playing with water in the sink.
Sc. 1997 Scotsman 11 Apr 18:
I do not do spreadsheets, and desktop publishing is just a bit of skiddling, really. As for the web, well, yes, but it is not what it is cracked up to be, is it?
Sc. 1997 Daily Record 6 May 8:
... I did insist on the big Belfast sink, because I was fed up skiddling around in the wee one that was there before.
Sc. 2001 Sunday Herald 4 Feb 4:
Finally after much skiddling about, we work out the correct way and proceed to make a pile of much-praised and quickly wolfed down crepes, complete with lemon juice and sugar.
Edb. 2004:
Stoap skiddlin in the soap suds.

2. intr. Of liquid in a container: to splash from side to side, to joggle about (Lnk. 1825 Jam., skytle).

II. n. 1. Any thin insipid or watered-down liquid, gen. used contemptuously for weak tea (wm.Sc. 1970). Phr. a tea skiddle, a tea-party (Id.).Lnk. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 166:
That puir, feckless skiddle ca'd tea.
Arg. 1930:
She taks naethin' but a skiddle o' tea.

2. A mess, muddle, confusion, freq. implying the spilling of water, etc. (em.Sc.(a), Lth., wm.Sc. 1970); a messy, inept or clumsy person (Ags. 1970).Arg. 1930:
She's aye in a skiddle nae maitter whan ye drap in on her.

3. Contemptuously, of any small trifling thing or concern; an undersized animal, a weakling (Dmf. 1958). Adj. skiddlie, trifling, insignificant (Slg., Lnk. 1970).Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 327:
An auld woman speaking of a small change-house, called it “a bit skiddle”.

[An altered form of Scuddle, v.1, the change of vowel indicating a lighter or more trifling action.]

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"Skiddle v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Feb 2024 <>



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