Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TRAIL, v., n. Also †treall. Sc. form and usages:

I. v. 1. As in Eng. Sc. combs., phrs. and derivs.: (1) to trail an easy harrow, to lead an easy life. Also in Eng. dial.; (2) to trail the poke, to be a mendicant, to beg. See Pock, n., 1. (2); (3) to trail the rape, to drag a rope anticlockwise round a house or byre, in order to bring bad luck on the occupants, take away the cows' milk or spoil butter-making, as a piece of witchcraft. See also Raip, n., 3. (4); (4) to trail a wing, of a man: to carry on an illicit love-affair, fig., from the practice of some male birds during mating (Wgt. 1960); (5) trail-car, -cart, a kind of sledge (see quots.); (6) trail-en(d), the first net of a fleet of herring-nets to be shot and hence the one farthest from the boat (Mry. 1921 T.S.D.C.; Sh., ne.Sc. 1972); (7) trailer, the last fly on a trout fishing-line when it consists of more than one hook, a tail-fly (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (8) trail-fly, id. Also in reduced form trail; (9) trailin-slade, “a crawling insect” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 197), prob. from some fancied resemblance to (5). See Sled; ¶(10) trailipus, any long trailing object. The form is prob. due to conflation with trallop; (11) trail-rake, a rake pulled by a rope slung over the shoulders (Dmf. 1972). (1) ne.Sc. 1884  D. Grant Lays 198:
If ye will but be my bride, Ye'se trail my easy harrow.
(2) Sc. 1818  Lockhart Scott xli.:
The owner of such a headpiece would never have had to trail the poke.
(3) Abd. 1877  W. Alexander Rural Life 198:
An old wife in other guises “trailin' the Rape” to deprive a neighbour's cow of its milk-giving powers.
(5) Dmf. 1828  Lockhart Burns vii.:
Tumbler-cars, so called to distinguish them from trail-cars.
Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xii.:
A trail-cart, being a box with shafts like a carriage, but without wheels, mounted on a great brush of branches and twigs, which stuck out behind and scored the ground with a thousand ruts and scratches.
(8) Sc. 1835  T. T. Stoddart Art Angling 19, 36:
We employ only one large hook as our trail-fly. . . . The lowermost or trail fly.
Sc. 1847  T. T. Stoddart Angler's Comp. 84:
There ought to be four lengths of small single gut, carefully knotted, betwixt the trail or stretcher and the hook immediately above it.
(10) Abd. 1883  W. Jolly J. Duncan 180:
“Fat ca' ye that grite trailipus o' a thing?” “Knotty-rooted figwort.”

2. To tramp, trudge, walk slowly, laboriously or dispiritedly, to gad about idly. Gen.Sc. Also in colloq. or dial. Eng. Hence trailed out, exhausted with walking; trailing, slow, dilatory. Per. 1835  J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. (1887) 114:
Their gyte taupy dochters in cotton-duds trail.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxvii.:
Trailin' a' the road fae that.
Dmf. 1875  P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 117:
She was a trailin' gawky body.
Lth. 1884  A. S. Swan Carlowrie i.:
Whaur hae ye been trailin' to the nicht?
Bwk. 1892  Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club 141:
I'm fair trailled oot, I am tired with the road.
Fif. 1897  S. Tytler Witch Wife v.:
He's a coof to trail here, where he might see he is not wanted.
Ayr. 1901  G. Douglas Green Shutters xxvi.:
Trailing every week to the like of Wilson for an awmous.
Ags. 1921  A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xvi.:
The beef shud ha' been on the fire an hour ago' you trailin' cuddy!

3. To draw grappling-irons through (a channel of water), to search by grappling (Sh. 1972). Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 141:
They even sent to Irvine for the grappling-airns and trailed the mill-dam.

4. To cut corn with a wide sweep of the sickle so that too much is cut to be properly grasped and so is left behind. Vbl.n. trailing (see quot.). Sc. 1811  Farmer's Mag. (June) 181:
Trailing — a method of cutting I greatly condemn; for, instead of gathering it, as is usually done, the reaper stretches out his hook as far as he can, and then draws it to him. The handful turns so heavy that it cannot be taken along with them; so, by this method, many straggling straws must necessarily be dropped.

5. To leave (a workmate) lagging behind. to outpace at work, in quot. of reaping. Rxb. 1821  A. Scott Poems 22:
Quo' she, I hate ay to be trail'd. Losh, Rab, let down a link.

II. n. †1. A sledge. Obs. in Eng. c.1600. Ayr. 1700  Arch. and Hist. Coll. Ayr. & Wgt. IV. 197:
Eightein shilling scotis, as the pryce of ane treall and two seck full of hay.

2. A long thin strip of material, a rag, wisp of clothing, a badly-made garment. Ags. 1883  Brechin Advert. (9 Jan.) 3:
For fear he micht rin awa wi' a trail o' 'er claith.
Ags. 1896  Barrie Sentimental Tommy x.:
The shrewd blasts cutting through my thin trails of claithes.
Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS. xix.:
I've made aprons for a dizzen years. But I never pat a trail like that oot o' my han.

3. A strong tree-branch dragged home for firewood (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

4. A large accumulation of articles, a haul (ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1972). Ags. 1890  Brechin Advert. (26 Aug.) 3:
They left a fell trail o' the gear they had scrappit thegither.

5. A long wearisome walk, a tramp, trudge (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Lth. 1892  A. S. Swan Aldersyde ii. i.:
Hae ye gotten anything for yer trail tae Ravelaw?
Kcb. 1899  Crockett Anna Mark vi.:
I would ride to London, let alone the little trail to Edinburgh.
Hdg. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 113:
Weel-I-wat, I had my trail for nocht!

6. A careless, dirty, slovenly person, gen. of a woman, a draggle-tail, trollop (Abd. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags. 1972). Dim. trail(l)ie, -y, one who wanders about shabbily dressed (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 452), or in an aimless idle manner. Comb. traillie-wallets, a trollop (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Slk. 1875  Border Treasury (13 Feb.) 334:
Ye're the uselessest trail that ever the yirth carriet!
Ags. 1894  J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 28:
The puir man's juist fair hudden doon wi' her, the lazy, weirdless trail.
Rxb. 1927  E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 12:
She is a traillie-wallets; his pantry's fair grown-up wui dirrt.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 67:
A fool, orra trail, 'at thinks she can sit doon an' tak' it easy fin' eence she's gotten a man.
Abd. 1970  Huntly Express (20 March) 2:
Ye'll bide ootower fae that trail o' an Andra.

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"Trail v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2019 <>



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