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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.

TWAL, num. adj., n. Also twa(a)l(l) (Per., Ayr. 1915–23 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., ne.Sc. 1973); twel (Fif. c.1850 Peattie MS.; Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songs from Heine 38; Fif. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 272), †tuell (Fif. 1725 A. Laing Lindores Abbey (1876) 310), twol (Gall. 1729 Trans. Highl. Soc. (1875) 13; Kcb. 1828 W. McDowall Poems 18; s.Sc. 1962 Southern Annual 29), twul(l); twel (Ags. 1926 J. M. Smith Manse Phone 21). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. twelve (Sc. 1702 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 353; Ags. 1777 Dundee Weekly Mag. (2 May) 295; Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 182; Uls. 1886 W. G. Lyttle Sons of the Sod vi.; Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxii.; Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 130; Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 22). [I., n., em.Sc. (b), wm., sm. and s.Sc. twɑl, em.Sc. (a) twɛl.]

I. adj. 1. As in Eng. Ordinal form twalt (Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 208; Ayr. 1790 Burns To a Gentleman 12; Kcd. 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (1887) 12; Lth. 1859 M. Oliphant Adam Graeme iii. vi.; Abd. 1882 G. MacDonald Castle Warlock xxix.; Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 52; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., ne.Sc., wm. Sc. 1973), twelt (Per., Fif., Lth. 1915–26 Wilson), twelfth; as a n.: in the knit-wear industry, a garment made on a frame which knits twelve garments simultaneously (Rxb. 1973); with def. art., specif. the 12th of August, the end of the close season for grouse-shooting. Gen.Sc. See T, letter, 3. (2).Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 75:
Twall Toop Horn-Spoons.
Ayr. 1780 Burns Ronalds of Bennals xiii.:
Twal' hundred, as white as the snaw.
Ayr. 1828 D. Wood Poems 36:
This August Twalt, I thought it strange, A while we did the heather range.
Sc. 1847 Chambers's Jnl. (20 Nov.) 325:
The twalt of August, when the shooters come up among the hills.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 463:
Zechareeah twalt and tenth.
Abd. c.1870 Sc. N. & Q. (Feb. 1923) 20:
It was at an Academy dinner in Edinburgh that he [James Cassie, R.S.A.] made the now famous remark, “Tak' awa' Aiberdeen an' twal' mile roun' an' faur are ye?”
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 87:
Eleeven, twal an' ane an' twa.
Dmf. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 142:
Moorbrock, twalt March o' eighty-nine.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (12 Aug.):
The Twalt, but little observed in rural Buchan, except where broad moors abound.
Rxb. 1961 W. Landles Penny Numbers 22:
There's a blithe kind o' muisic in the whushin' o' the frames, As steeks upon the needle bars build up sae mony twalts.
Sc. 1991 Forbes Macgregor in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 17:
The Lord's taen up twal stane o stour
To mak a man within the oor

2. Combs.: (1) twal-cup, a drink of tea taken at midday; (2) twal hours, twaloos, taloors, -oose (Arg. 1936 L. McInnes S. Kintyre 15), rarely in sing., (i) twelve o' clock at noon (Sc. 1825 Jam.) or occas. midnight. Also attrib. and in phrs. twal hours o' the day, — at e'en; (ii) a snack or drink taken at midday, a midday meal (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Ork. 1973). Cf. fower-hours s.v. Fower, 5.; (iii) the midday interval between church services on a Sunday (Ayr. 1930, obs.); (3) twal hundred, of linen: woven on a reed of twelve hundred splits, hence of medium fineness (Ork. 1973). See Hunder, 2.; (4) twalmonth, -mon(t), -munt, twelmonth, twoolmunt, -mond, a period of twelve months, a year (Sc. 1880 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.; †transf. of sheep: a wether in its second year (Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 328, twolmund). For other Sc. forms see Towmond; (5) twal owsen plew, a heavy wooden plough drawn by twelve oxen. Hist.; (6) twalpennie, -y, twelve pennies; also attrib. costing twelve pennies, in the earlier quots. usu. referring to Scots money, or one penny sterling. See Scots, adj., 3. (4). Also ¶tweltpenny. Hence pl. twalpennies, -pence, a shilling Scots or one penny sterling; later a shilling in British money (5 decimal pence); (7) twalpiece, a lunch-time snack often carried by workmen or children (Ork. 1973). See Piece, 2.; (8) twalsome, a group of twelve. Also attrib. = consisting of twelve; (9) twal-time, = (2) (Sh. 1973); (10) twelve tunes, a collection of twelve tunes in common metre to be used with the Scottish metrical psalms.(1) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (15 Jan.):
I'm fear'd ta ax me neebir wife in ta tak a twal-cup a tae wi' me.
(2) (i) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 106:
A band of kettrin . . . Ca'd aff our store at twelve hours o' the day.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 7:
Till douf the twall-hours bell crys clink, Then aff a' wallop in a wink.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie x.:
Ye're far in the day wi' your meal-time. I thought ye would hae had that o'er by twal hours.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 209:
Weel kent that ilka Lammas nicht Whan the twal' 'oor is at han'.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 7, 105:
The short October day, sunny in the morning, and even beeking warm at twull oors. . . . Mony a time have I skelpit hame from the Clumbeith at twull oors at e'en.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 11:
Haein oor baps an' yill at the twal-hoors.
Ork. 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 10:
A quantity of water was taken out of a certain well or keldra into which the sun “shined” at “twal hoors.”
ne.Sc. 1914 G. Greig Folk-Song xcvi.:
Awa' at twal' hoors she gaed scouring straught hame.
Rnf. 1925 A. M. Stewart Paisley Shawl 22:
The “twall hoors” or mid-day break must have been a Paisley institution. Elsewhere it was unknown.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 47. 11:
Da risin generation, at dey say duisna rise, bit sleeps till twaloo's time.
(ii) Sc. 1825 Aberdeen Censor 156:
When the Dominie was out at his twall-hours.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller ii.:
Was it to be expected, then, that such friends could separate without their “twal hours”?
Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 149:
He got his “twal hours” daily in their wee bit bothy.
Sh. 1914 Old-Lore Misc. VII. ii. 71:
When a hungry boy has come in clamouring for his “twaloors”.
Sc. 1924 Sc. Recitations (Harley) 40:
Yer faither'll sune be in for his twal' hours.
(3) Ayr. 1780 Burns Ronalds of the Bennals xiii.:
My sarks they are few, but five o' them new — Twal' hundred, as white as the snaw, man!
Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm lxii.:
There was a twal-hunner shift upo' the bairn.
Abd. 1898 J. M. Cobban Angel v.:
I'll hae nae tearing o' good twal-hundred sheets in this house!
(4) Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton III. 178:
We're spinning out an hour's wark to a twalmonth's.
Abd. 1830 Sir Aldingar in Child Ballads No. 59 C. i.:
A twalmon lang and mair.
Fif. 1844 J. Jack St Monance 115:
Ye hinna darken'd my door this twa twolmonts.
Gsw. 1863 W. Miller Nursery Songs 60:
The mile-stanes o' life, as we journey, Are lang weary twalmonths atween.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Merry Men iv.:
Twa in ae twalmonth!
Sh. 1902 J. Burgess Sh. Folk 90:
Whar's da forteen shillin's 'at du's been aain me for da last twalmunt?
Rxb. 1915 Kelso Chronicle (1 Jan.):
Anither twalmonth's circled past.
Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (May) 151:
She's been deid this twal'month.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 68:
Yince mair I scouk up tae the auld year's turnin
an luk back skelly on the twalmonth gane,
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 64:
' ... I hadna been a twalmonth in ma first term as provost, but I could see the only wey tae retain oor superiority ower Leith was tae invest in it. ... '
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 9:
As lang as salmon sweem the waves an I hae thochts tae myn,
As boats salute the dwinin year, their anchor towes tae tyne
O twal month traivels ower an by, tae welcome in the new,
I'm laith tae haimmer doon the kist an bid the Auld adieu.
(5) Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 35:
The “twal owsen” plough was pretty common so late as 1792.
Bnff. 1902 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 12:
The stilts of the twal owsen plough were short.
(6) Ayr. 1786 Burns Twa Dogs 115–6:
Whyles twalpennie-worth o' nappy Can mak the bodies unco happy.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xiii.:
Putting a penny into his hand, he said, ‘Here is twal pennies, my man. '
Ayr. 1824 A. Crawford Tales of My Grandmother 276:
To pay three twalpennies o' lawin'.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 29:
They wad hae gotten a pint o geud eel for t'ree bawbees: that's only the aucht pert o a tweltpenny.
Knr. 1894 H. Haliburton Furth in Field 54:
In a twalpenny leather purse.
Rnf. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 156:
Ae room was jist twal'pence a week.
Dmf. 1958 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (26 July):
The Barley Bannock, with a saut herrin' affixed to it with a twalpenny nail.
(7) Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 99:
Ale and “ait bannocks” with cheese formed a substantial “twal'-piece”.
Ork. 1924 P. Ork. A.S. II. 78:
Getting “soweny rollies” for a “twal-piece” to school.
(8) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 198:
My mother had a twullsome family.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 284:
Tensome an' Twalsome Faimilies.
m.Sc. 1979 Donald Campbell in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 66:
Your grannie was aye randy,
gied a twalsome each a wean,
(9) Sh. 1955 Shetland News (20 Dec.):
Hit's bön rampin ida pot fae twaal time.
(10) Sc. 1949 M. Patrick Sc. Psalmody 111:
When the first collection of tunes for use with the new Psalter [of 1650] was published by an Aberdeen printer in 1666, it contained only twelve tunes. These were: Common Tune, King's Tune's, Duke's Tune, English Tune, French, London (London New), Stilt (York), Dunfermline, Dundee, Abbey, Martyrs, Elgin. By the end of the century these twelve were canonised as embodying the accepted and inexpansible musical tradition of the Church of Scotland.

II. n. 1. With def. art.: twelve o' clock, esp. at night, midnight (ne.Sc., Ags., Bwk., Lnk. 1973). Also in phrs. twal at e'en, — o' nicht, id.Ayr. 1785 Burns Dr Hornbook xxi.:
Some wee, short hour ayont the twal.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 79:
To wail the hour o' twall at e'en.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxii.:
Twal o' the Sunday at e'en.
Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 15:
When the cock, at twal' o' nicht, Erects its scarlet kame.
Ags. 1888 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XI. 213:
Last nicht the twal had chappit Afore I left the toun.
e.Lth. 1876 J. Lumsden Battles 50:
An “aucht-day,” lairge an' braw — Its twa hands maist meet at the twal.

2. A meal or light refreshment taken at noon, a shortened form of twal hours s.v. I. 2. (2) (ii) (Sh. 1973). Also attrib.Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 85:
Aboot half past ten in cam da sam twa lasses wi' tumblers o' haet mylk an' coco' dis wis fur wir twal.
Sh. 1955 Shetland News (28 Dec.):
An da bull-calf no hed his twal drink!

[Forms without v are also found in Eng. dial. See P.L.D. § 70.3. O.Sc. has twell, c.1500, twoll, 1588, twal, 1590, twelt, 1513, twallt, 1647.]

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



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