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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).

TARTLE, v.1, n.1 Also tertle (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). [tɑrtl; s.Sc. tærtl]

I. v. 1. intr. To hesitate, to be uncertain as in recognising a person or object; to boggle, “as a horse does” (Lth. 1808 Jam.); to hesitate about clinching a bargain. Adj. tartlesome, disposed to start objections, captious (Dmf. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 311).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 17:
A toom purse makes a tartling merchant.
Per., Lth. 1808 Jam.:
“I tartled at him,” I could not with certainty recognise him.
s.Sc. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 337:
They had borne me off or ta'en my life, I tartle not to say.

2. tr. To recognise, esp. after some uncertainty, to discern (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 270); also intr. with on.m.Lth. 1915 Glasgow Herald (22 Nov.):
I couldna tartle't him at a'. I tartled on him at yince.
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 54:
A lassie, tartlin' on him, speired Gif he was no' a crony.

II. n. A hesitation in the recognition of a person or thing (Lth. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. tartle, = I. 2., 1681. Orig. doubtful, poss. ultimately met from O.E. tealtrian, to totter, waver, be uncertain, but the historical evidence is wanting. Cf. Tolter.]

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"Tartle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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