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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TUMMLE, v., n. Also tummel, tum(e)l, tumle, tumil; ¶tumple (ne.Sc. 1791 Caled. Mercury (29 Sept.)). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. tumble. See P.L.D. § 62. [tʌml]

I. v. 1. Sc. forms. Dundee 1994 Matthew Fitt in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 174:
"Waatch whar ye're gaein, ya eejit." The aippul seller wis fumin bit the young lad didnae sei him, didnae even heer him. He wus doon an alang the street afore the first aippul hud tummilt intae the cundie.
Ags. 1999 Courier 20 Jan :
A Pitcairngreen reader has followed up the item on Scots sayings with some others.
"A lady, describing an irritating cough, said she had a 'nesty tickly clocherin' hoast' and after a sleepless night said she had 'rowled an' tum'led an' better tum'led'."

2. Sc. combs., phrs, and derivs.: (1) tak a tummle to oneself, to realize what is happening.†(2) tumbler, (i) a kind of light box-cart with fixed, gen. solid, wheels which revolved with the axle (wm., sm.Sc. 1825 Jam.), so called from its jolting motion. Hist. Also attrib. in tumbler-car(t), id., tumbler-wheel, = (9). See also (4); (ii) in coal-mining: an apparatus for tipping coal-hutches or waggons (Sc. 1883 W. S. Gresley Coal-Mining Gl. s.v.); (iii) = (8). (Per. 1973); (3) tummle the cat (Sh., ne.Sc. 1973), — the craw (Ags. 1973), to tumble head over heels, do a somersault. For tummle the wulled, — wilkies, etc. see Wild, adj., 1. Combs.; (4) tumbling car(t), = (2); (5) tumblin Geordie, potted head (Edb. 1910 Scotsman (6 Sept.)), poss. a mistake for trummlin (see Tremmle, v., 1.); (6) tumlin Maggie, a horse-drawn hay-gatherer which turns right over in depositing its load (m.Lth. 1960). See (8) (iii); (7) tummlin shakker, a straw-shaker in a threshing-mill which revolved instead of operating with a horizontal to-and-fro motion (ne.Sc. 1973); (8) tummlin Tam, †(i) a kind of scales for weighing the heavy copper coins of George III.; (ii) in coal-mining, = (2) (ii) (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 69, tumbling-Tom); a coal-screen or riddle; (iii) = (6) (Abd. 1951 Press and Jnl. (17 May); Ork. 1961 Orcadian (12 Jan.); Ork., n., m. and s.Sc. 1973); (iv) see quot.; (v) a metal loop working on a swivel for fastening a gate (Kcb. c.1930); (vi) = (iv) (Ayr. 1921 T.S.D.C.) but see Tremmle, v., 1. and Tam, prop. n., 4. (21); (9) tumblin-tree, a wheel made or joined in one piece with its axle and so revolving with it (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 200); (10) tummlin taings, = (6) (Abd. 1957). See Tangs; (11) tumbling wheel, = (9) (Sc. 1899 H. G. Graham Social Life I. 166). (1)Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 71:
tummle Tumble. The phrase take a tummle to yersel means liven up your ideas, get yourself sorted out, see the error of your ways, etc.
Gsw. 1991:
Take a tummle/tumble tae yersel.
Edb. 2005:
She's fair taen a tumble tae hersel an loast a lot o weight.
(2) Ayr. 1793 W. Fullarton Agric. Ayr. 9:
The farmers dragged [dung] on what were called tumbler-wheels, which turned with the axletree, and supported the wretched vehicle, hardly able to draw 5 cwt.
Per. 1799 J. Robertson Agric. Per. 92:
The shafts had two pins that embraced the axle and made these awkward wheels tumble along; from which circumstances they were named tumblers.
Clc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 199:
Tumblers, a trifling species of carts, which have for ages been used about Alloa for transporting coals to the shore.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. viii.:
Small carts or tumblers, as they were called in that country.
Dmf. 1828 in Lockhart Burns vii.:
His carts were heavy and low-wheeled or were, more properly speaking, tumbler-cars, so called to distinguish them from trail-cars.
Rs. 1877 Trans. Highl. Soc. 86:
The wheels of the cart were constructed of three sticks, six inches in diameter, which were crossed and fixed in the centre by an axle that turned with the wheels on “tum'lers”.
Dmb. 1880 D. Murray Old Cardross 38:
Prior to that time [1760] the only wheeled vehicles for common use were tumbler-carts, which were simply sledges mounted on small wheels about three feet in diameter, made solid — united by a wooden axle, and all turning round together.
(3) Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 25:
To come hame tummlin' the cat the haill wye.
Abd. 1968 Press and Jnl. (30 Jan.):
Another country loon had never heard the phrase “tummle the cat.”
Abd. 1993:
E bairnie wis a great een for tummlin e cat.
4. Abd. 1811 G. Keith Agric. Abd. 212:
The old tumbling cart wheels cost from 2s. to 2s. 6d.
Gall. 1811 T. Murray Liter. History Gall. (1832) 338:
Victual was brought from the sandbeds of Esk, in tumbling cars, on the Wednesdays, to Dumfries.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 38:
In the “tumbling cart,” in place of the wheels turning round on the axle, the axle-tree itself turned round. There were no iron bushes in the naves of the wheels.
(6) m.Lth. 1972 M. Jamieson Old Wife 82:
When the tumbling-maggie went over Bobbie's back, he just stood and laughed.
(8) (i) Gsw. c.1780 Glasgow Past & Present (1884) II. 226:
An instrument for weighing halfpence in a quick manner was invented, called a tumblin Tam. It was formed somewhat in the shape of the capital letter T, and was fixed to the counter of the place.
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of Lairds iv.:
I gave him a whole penny — twa new bawbees, gude weight, for it was then the days o' the tumbling Tams.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd viii, ix.:
Compared him to a lumby bawbee in an old Scottish tumbling-tam.
(ii) Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 69:
“Billy Fairplay Tummlin-tams” for riddlin coals.
(iii) Sc. 1962 Trans. Highl. Soc. 62:
Drag-rakes of the “tummlin' tam” type.
Ags. 1970 Dundee Courier (3 Dec.) 8/4:
The auld, original Tumlin' Tam, wi' its twa sets o' pikes was whiles a gae dangerous tool.
(iv) Gall. 1955 Quest (Autumn) 15:
They [dykers] tested the width of the foundations by means of another instrument called a “Tumbling Tom” which was a kind of adjustable frame with two arms which dropped down on both sides of the dyke which it was required to measure.

II. n. 1. As in Eng. ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
Gin I thocht o eternity and kent whit it meant,
it wid be this elemental hiss
splyterin saut on the tummle o its spines,
the muckle backet o the earth
teemin and fillin thro history
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 6:
Snirkle away then, and smirk up yir sleeve,
Ah've had mair than enough, it's time to leave!
Be a while afore I set fit again in this habitation,
Which has taken quite a tummle in my estimation.

2. Sc. combs.: (1) tummle car. = I. 1. (1); (2). tummel rummel, in adv. phr. a' tummel rummel, in ruin and noisy confusion.(1) Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 93:
Roostit horseshoon, an queer wheel-rings O' tumle cars.
(2) Abd. 1900 J. Milne Poems 39:
Down thou shalt fa' wi' a clash and a dird, A' tummel-rummel, flat wi' the yird!

[O.Sc. tumbler, = I. 1. (1), 1535, tumbling-cart, 1591.]

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"Tummle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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