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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

SPRECKLE, v., n., adj. Also spreckel, sprekle, sprekkel, spraekle, spraikle; spra(c)kle, spragle; spri(c)kle. [sprekl]

I. v. 1. tr. To speckle, mottle, fleck, variegate (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. (sprackle) 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 267; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.; intr. to become speckled or mottled (Gregor). Freq. in ppl.adj. spreckled (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), spraklet, spreklet, sprekkeld, 1914 Angus Gl., spriklet; Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 187; e.Rs. 1929; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Fif. 1950, spracklet; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Lnk. 1959). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1752 Caled. Mercury (5 Oct.):
A great many small Spots through her Body, and pretty much spreckled on the on[e] Thigh [of a dog].
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 85:
Twas e'ening whan the spreckled gowdspink sang.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Daisy ii.:
The bonie lark, companion meet, Wi' spreckl'd breast!
Sc. 1827 Lord Randal in Child Ballads No. 12. B.v.:
‘What like were your fishes, my jollie young man?' ‘Black backs and spreckld bellies'.
Per. a.1843 J. Stewart Sketches (1857) 23:
He carried the stanes frae the burn . . . They're round, round, and spraikled like spice amon' saut.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 246:
Dey saw wir spraekled duik.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 117:
Like Jacob's cattle, a' spotted an' spraikled.
Rxb. 1901 W. Laidlaw Poetry 4:
I scared a mavis from its nest; Its tiny eggs and spreckled breast Were joy to me.
Ork. 1904 W. T. Dennison Sketches 6:
The half-naked folk, a' spragled wi' bleud.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 38:
We lytered by the Tyrie burn to catch a spreckelt troot.
em.Sc. 1996 Hamish Henderson in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 73:
That year we all met up one evening at Altnaharra, beneath the spreckled, moonlit sides of the same Ben Klibreck which, two years before, had so frightened Tommy Kennedy.

2. To sprinkle.Ags. 1888 Arbroath Guide (28 July) 3:
No sin the meenister spraikl'd cauld water on my face.

II. n. 1. A speckle, spot, freckle (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 267; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Deriv. adj. spreckly, speckled, speckly (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Comb. granny-spreckle, a shrimp.Fif. 1897 G. Setoun G. Malcolm xviii.:
I would say it's just like a grass-hopper, only about four times as big — the size o' a granny-spreckle.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 90:
The stuckies arna jist ma wale o burd; ... but ye'll no fin thaim roostin thare at nicht.
On bieldie ceetie winnock-soles thay bide.
Thay spreckly skellums ken whit's whit aw richt.

2. Ellipt., a speckled feather.Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 408:
To get a further supply of turkey feathers. . . . fine grey spreckles and white-tops.

III. adj., from the n. used attrib.: mottled, flecked with different colours.Abd. 1929 Deeside Field 41:
A red-headed lassie crossing the road would be such an ill omen that farmers driving to market would turn home again rather than pass over that road. “Spreckle sheep and black ewes” were also to be avoided.

[O.Sc. spraikil, a speckle, 1513, E.M.E. spreckled. Cf. Norw. dial. sprekla, a fleck, spreklutt, speckled, M.H.Ger. spreckel, sprekeleht, speckle(d).]

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"Spreckle v., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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