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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.

SPINLE, n., adj., v. Also spinnel (Gsw. 1738 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 496; Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (8 May); Ayr. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 116), spinnell (e.Lth. 1701 Rec. Sc. Cloth Manuf. (S.H.S.) 231; Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 171), spinnle (Sc. 1842 Whistle-Binkie 92; Abd. 1932 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 106), dim. spinnlie; also diphthongal forms, in sense 4. only, spynle (s.Sc. 1793 Letters Mrs Cockburn (1900) 232; wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 108), spynel (Sc. 1740 Scots Mag. (March) 142), spinel (Rnf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 70), speinell; spyndle (Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. III. 300; Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 755), spyniel (Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail xl.), spynial; spangle, spengle (Uls. 1953 Traynor). Adj. spinly (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. spindle (ne. and wm.Sc. 1971). See P.L.D. § 64. [spɪnl; †spəinl]

I. n. 1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. (1) spindle-birlie, a whorl used for weighting a spindle. See Birl; (2) spinnle neb, fig. the climax of anything (Abd. 1958); (3) spinnleshanks, Sc. form of Eng. spindleshanks; (4) spindle-wid(s), fig. splinters, freq. used collectively (I.Sc. 1971).(1) Bwk. 1879 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club IX. 30:
A slate “spindle-birlie,” marked on the sides with incised concentric circles, found near Oxton.
(3)Ags. 1990s:
Spinnle-shanks: A long-legged person.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 48:
Since his spinnleshanks hid bin auld eneuch tae fill lang breeks, he'd kent that quines didna gee his ginger: he's been drawn mair tae his ain kind, bit his ain kind didna return the interest ...
(4) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (25 Feb.):
If he'd com' i' da boat spreet livin', he'd laid her in spindle wid apo' da watter.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 127:
His boannie loom in spindle wids Hae lang sin syne been led.

2. A weather vane on a steeple.Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 43:
Frae its foundation to its spinnel The steeple's length did dirl and dinnel.

3. A child's top; a 1930 Tinker's Rhyme:
Will ye nae buy a brander A toaster or a stander A spinnle for the wee yins?

4. A measure of yarn (orig. the amount that can be spun on a spindle at one time), varying in length according to the material spun, and gradually increased during the 18th c. until finally fixed at 4 hanks of linen, or 14,400 yards, or 18 hanks of cotton, or 15,120 yards. See Hank, n.1, Heere, Hesp, n.2Sc. 1705 J. Spreull Accompt Current (1882) 12:
Six Spangle of fine Yarn.
Sc. 1721 Rec. Conv. Burghs (1885) 273:
The short reel be one quarter long, one eln about, have six score threeds in every cut, three cuts to the hank, and eight hanks in the spindle; and the long reel be half eln long, two elns about, having six scor threeds in the cut, six cuts to the hank, and eight hanks in the spindle.
Abd. 1748 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 45:
They shall be paid 10 s. per speinell.
Sc. 1784 A. Wight Present State Husbandry IV. i. 164:
2s. to 7s. 6d. the spindle of four hanks in the pound.
Rnf. 1797 A. Brown Hist. Gsw. 277:
The raw material of these fine threads is flax spun into eight spyndles of the pound, worth 9s. 6d. per spyndle.
Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Weaving 319:
The length of one spyndle of cotton, is to one spyndle of linen, exactly in the proportion of 21 to 20.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 187:
I hae three spinles o' sale yarn.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 18:
The cuts and spynials that comes of their eydance in the winter.
Fif. 1863 St Andrews Gaz. (9 May):
Several spyndles of weft Yarn.

II. v. In ppl.adj. spinnelled, spindle-shaped, thick in the middle and tapering at both ends, somewhat oval; used to describe the teats of an animal suffering from mastitis.Kcb. 1721 Session Rec. Kelton MS. (22 April):
The back barn door is so small that it is not possible for a spinnelled harrow to be put in thereby.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 460:
Teats are very apt to become corded or spindled.
Sc. 1882 Trans. Highl. Soc. 168:
More “spindled” teats have occurred in the udders of ewes.

[The diphthongal forms appar. come from the lengthening of the vowel in the open syllable of O.E. nominative spinel > spīnel; the short vowel is from the oblique stem spinl-. Cf. O.Sc. forms lyitil, laytille, with litil. O.Sc. has spynnill, of yarn, 1574.]

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"Spinle n., adj., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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