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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WAFFLE, v., n., adj. Also waffel, -il, wafl, waaffel, wauf(f)le, wauful; wuffle ; wiffle, weffle, -il; ¶weefil; ¶whuffle. [wɑfl]

I. v. 1. (1) intr. To wave about, to waver in the air, to flap, flutter (Cld. 1825 Jam., waufle ; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Ork., n.Sc. Per., Fif., Lnk., Wgt., Dmf. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. Adj. waffly, volatile, easily blown about, shaky (Ork., ne.Sc. 1973).Fif. 1867 J. Morton C. Gray 95:
The wee gowans joukit an junkit agee, They boo'd an' they beck'd, an' waffled wi' glee.
Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 229:
Frae whase looped ends my breeks did hing, That wafflin', roomy, to ilk breeze, Aye kept me cool frae wame to knees.
Sc. 1905 E.D.D.:
Thistledown might be called ‘waffly'.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. vii.:
A rash wafflin' i' the wun.
Ork. 1920:
His wide breeks wir wafflan aboot his feet.

(2) tr. To cause to wave or flap (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial.; specif. to turn over (sheets of paper), to flick through (a book, etc.), to shuffle (Sc. 1905 E.D.D., whuffle). Also with ower.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 190:
I like to wuffle owre the leaves and con them to mysel'.
Sc. 1908 Gsw. Ballad Club III. 256:
Behold him on his glozened knees Wafflin' a scrimpit table o' fees.

(3) Fig. To waver, be uncertain or hesitant, to vacillate (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial. and now freq. in colloq. Eng. Hence waffler, a weak, indecisive, footling sort of person, a ditherer, a laggard (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Sc. 1973) wafflin, indecisive, vacillating, shilly-shallying, also in n.Eng. dial.; waffly, id.Dmf. 1819 Carlyle Early Letters (Norton) I. 215:
The waffler did not get his cast home till Monday.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 145:
'Tis you I punch at, worthless, wafflin crood.
Sc. 1874 W. Allan Hamespun Lilts 432:
They lang had thocht Effie a puir wafflin' cratur.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 173:
Some of the would be sodgers, however, were after a' but wafflers and pretenders.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 125:
Let the waffly body tak ocht I hae written and mak a kirk or a mill o't as pleases himsel'.
Slg. 1927 N. Dundas Castle Adamant iv.:
Of course there are wafflers, ye could look for no less in a town of five thousand souls.

(4) To stagger, totter, move uncertainly (Wgt. 1973), to waver about in walking against a strong wind (Sh. 1973). Adj. wafflie, tottery, staggery (Cai. 1973).

2. intr. Of the wind: to blow in gusts (Dmf. 1973), esp. from different directions, to eddy (Sh. 1973).

3. To crease, wrinkle, rumple (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) W.43, wuffle); to tangle, ravel, put into confusion (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), wafl, Ork. 1929 Marw., esp. of a crop twisted and broken by wind; Sh. 1973); to knit in a loose clumsy manner (Abd. 1904 E.D.D., wuffle).Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 21:
Collar raandeet, an waaffelt lang seine.
Abd.15 1930:
The hank o' worset was gey sair wufflet.

4. tr. and intr. To make or become soft, limp or flabby. Hence waffel'd, wafflt, limp from weakness, exhaustion, etc. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth. 1973); waffly, weefly, id., feeble (I.Sc., Abd., Ags., Fif. 1973).Sc. 1784 Caled. Mercury (27 Sept.):
Whan eild an' pain the strength has broken, An' ane grows waffel'd like a doken.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 64:
The sicht o' the puir wafilly budy.
Rxb. 1922 I. Thomson Lays 42:
[A robin's] wafflt wings drawn tae defen' Thae legs sae sma' an' blae.
Ork. 1950:
He's gey weefly on his feet yet. What a weefly bit o' kitten.

II. n. 1. A flapping, waving.s.Sc. c.1830 T. Wilkie in Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 134:
The waffle o' his philibeg.

2. A puff, weak gust of wind (Ags. 1973); in pl. flatulence (Sh. 1973); a slight fall or flurry of snow (Cld. 1825 Jam., waufle).em.Sc. 1898 H. Rogers Meggotsbrae 235:
A waffle o' win' wad send it fleein oot o' the door.

3. Loosely-woven or thin cloth which lacks substance (Slk. 1958).Rnf. 1917 The Thistle (May) 95:
A sage old Renfrew wife inspecting a thin piece of cloth very disparagingly, would say, “it's a perfect wiffle.”

4. A tossing about, as in a high wind (Sh. 1973). Cf. I. 2.Sh. 1899 Shetland News (1 April):
Me legs an' feet is rostin', an' Loard be fir me as I tink me knee shalls is frost bitten. Such a day an' such a waffle.

5. A feeble, silly, spineless person (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth., s.Sc. 1973).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 108:
Skailed by … wasterful weefils who were owre het and fou.

III. adj. 1. Supple, flexible, pliant (Sc. 1808 (weffil), 1825 (waffle, -il) Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D., Cai. 1973). Hence weffilness, suppleness (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 15:
On weengs waffle hae we flown.

2. Inert, limp, feeble, weak, sluggish (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., obsol.; Cai., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif. 1973).Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 319:
The wee waffel bairnie.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 86:
Haud up her heid! Her neck's as wauful's a new-born bairn's.
Ags. 1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 152:
Ae nicht when comin' cauld and waffle Ower Bommieshanner.
Sc. 1897 L. Keith Bonnie Lady vii.:
We set him down as feckless and waffle, and not altogether right in the head.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 64:
Like a caul' clossach, she hung waffle on's airm.

[Dim. or freq. form of Waff, v.1, n.1 The I.Sc. forms may be partly assimilations from Wavel, q.v.]

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"Waffle v., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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