Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SPELD, v. Also spelt; spel. tr. and refl. To split, cut, slice open, esp. of fish to dry (Sh., Cai. 1971); to lay flat or extended, spread-eagle; to spread out (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.). Pa.p. speld(it); ppl.adj. speldin, fig., expansive. Cf. Spald. [spɛld] Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
He spelded himself on the ice.
Sc. 1754 D. Dickson Christian Love 20:
But legs or arms assunder speld, hung up and nail'd on tree.
Bnff. 1827 Aberdeen Star (20 July) 313:
My throat was dried like a speldit haddock.
Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 157:
In speldin words an' jerky gestures.
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Scotch Marriages II. vi.:
In their ‘saut', ‘reekit' or ‘spelded' conditions.
Sh. 1893 Sinclair MS. 13:
Wi' da perrie muttle shø spelds da liver in riegs.
Mry. 1930:
To spel one's fingers = to put one's fingers to one's nose.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 134:
Sheu wad spelt apen da harnpan o' da first ane 'at darkened 'er doorstane.
Cai. 1965 Edb. John o' Groat Liter. Soc. 7:
We're busy spleetan' atoms Fan we should be speldan' herrin!

Derivs. (1) speldin(g), speldan(e), spelden, speldack (Rs.), -ag (Cai.), spellan, a fish, gen. a haddock or whiting, split and dried in the sun, sometimes smoked (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 267; Sh., n.Sc., Ags. 1971) [′spɛldɪn; Cai. -dəg]; (2) spelder, one who splits fish to prepare them for curing (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.). Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 29:
Swith hame and feast upon a Spelding.
Sc. 1773 Boswell Tour (1785) 50:
I bought some speldings, fish (generally whitings) salted and dried in a particular sea and dried in the manner, being dipped in the sun, and eaten by the Scots by way of a relish.
Sc. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 403:
Gude Findhorn speldings are dried haddocks. They are eaten as they are received without further dressing.
Lnk. a.1832 W. Watt Poems (1860) 332:
Some greedily a speldin' chow.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 201:
When the haddocks are still somewhat lean after spawning, many of them are sun-dried, and go by the name of “speldanes” or “spellans.”
Sc. 1933 E. S. Haldane Scotland of Our Fathers 44:
In Scotland a ‘spelding' or dried salt haddock was in former days often placed beside the glass of ale ordered at a roadside inn to whet the traveller's thirst.
Rs. 1936 C. Macdonald Echoes Glen 2:
“Speldacks” (a variety of the Finnan Haddock of particularly delicious flavour).
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 22:
Reestin' stolen speldins in aneth the Lifeboat Slip.
Cai. 1966 Edb. John o' Groat Liter. Soc. 43:
A saw 'e skorrie makan off wi' 'e speldag.

[O.Sc. speld, to spreadeagle, c.1480, a variant, with different ablaut grade, of Spald, q.v. Cf. O.E. speld, a split or splinter, and Speld, n., above.]

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"Speld v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2021 <>



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