Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WEEL, adv., adj. Also †weall (Sc. 1702 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 353), weil (Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 34, Dmf. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales I. 260), weill (Sc. a.1714 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 489), weell (Abd. 1715 Hist. Papers Jacobite Period (S.C.) 44, 1836 J. Grant Tales of the Glens 17) and reduced forms wae, wi', in unstressed speech, esp. in sense I. 3. in Gall. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. well (Sc. 1705 Sutherland Bk. (Fraser 1892) II. 202; Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 127; Ayr. 1773 Burns Handsome Nell v.; Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xli.; Slk. 1828 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1876) xiii.; Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 220; Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxix.; Ags. 1892 Barrie Little Minister x.; Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 388; Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 84; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc. Hence weel-laek, looking well, having a fine appearance (Sh. 1898 J. Burgess Tang ii.). [wil]

I. adv. 1. As an intensive: very, quite, much. Rare in Eng. exc. with certain adjs., able, aware, worth, and obs. with compars. Phr. ¶weel lo'es me o', blessings on —, good luck to — Only in Fergusson, erroneously for leese me; see Lief, adj., 2. The construction has been adapted from weel's me in II. 1. below. Rxb. 1723  J. J. Vernon Par. Hawick (1900) 170:
There being John Red, a well aged man.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 189, 208:
Weel loes me o' you, souter Jock. Weel lo'es me o' you, Business, now.
Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 140:
Four good teeth before and well willin gums in the backside.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
Gin ye tak that way, it'll be weill war.
Lnk. 1838  J. Morrison McIlwham Papers 20:
Swallowed wi' weel-wullin' gums.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxi.:
He's vera weel kent to a' here present; an' weel-wordy o' siccan a office.
Per. 1897  R. M. Fergusson Village Poet 149:
My hair a' wi' marled, my cheeks a' wi' clung.
Lnk. 1919  G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 38:
The ferm stock melted like the weel-wat snaw.

In combs., where weel is freq. confused with Wale, n.1: (1) the weel warst, the very worst, the worst of the lot (ne.Sc. 1973). Also adv.; (2) well-wight, see Wale, n.1, 4. (i). (1) Sc. 1708  Chrons. Atholl and Tullibardine Families II. App. ci.:
And then the Devil assaults the well worst of the three.
Sc. 1776  D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 87:
The slighting of the silly bridegroom, The weel warst o' the three.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
He abus'd me the weel warst that could be.
ne.Sc. 1828  P. Buchan Ballads I. 195:
The well-warst vow that ye're to vow.
Sc. 1880  Kemp Owyne in
Child Ballads No. 34 Add. 1:
The father weded the weel worst woman This day that lives in Christiendom.
Abd. 1951  Buchan Observer (28 Aug.):
The weel warst wis Ninety-twa.

2. Very much, indeed, really. Weel than, an emphatic affirmative answer to a question, = “didn't I, etc., just!, you bet I did, etc.” (‡Abd. 1973). See also Than, I. 2. Sh. 1898  W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 50:
Dis is weel sae strong, Bartle!
Mry. 1927  E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 9:
“Did you fall, Jane?” “Weel than!”

3. As an inferential or enclitic particle, either by itself or in reduplic. or comb. forms weel-a-weel (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 103; Gen.Sc.), -o'-weel, weelna: very well, all right, so be it, anyhow, then. See Na, adv.3 Common in reduced forms with than, as waethan, wi than. Lnk. a.1779  D. Graham Writings (1886) II. 56:
A well a well then good day to you.
wm.Sc. 1812  Scotchman 83:
Waethan, whan a trade is left, it's sure to gang on richt.
Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 30:
“Ken ye whar the auld Kirk o' Dinscore is?” “Ay” returned the other, “wi than”, said the next.
wm.Sc. 1835  Laird of Logan 131:
Weel-a-weel, and isna a Kangaroo's siller as guide as anither man's?
Ags. 1853  W. Blair Aberbrothock 45:
Weel-a-weel, fan a' this was makin' ready.
Gsw. 1898  D. Willox Poems 251:
Tam simply wad say, “Weel-a-weel, I'll jist by your counsel be guided.”
Gall. 1888  G. G. B. Sproat Rose o' Dalma Linn 155:
I heard them saying ‘Weel, o' weel, Guide faith he's unco braw.'
Kcb. 1894  Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet xxiii.:
Weelna, tell me aboot your faither.
Kcb. 1896  Crocket Raiders xxxv.:
Wi' laddie, this is blithe seein'.
Gall. 1900  R. J. Muir Muncraig iii.:
“I cannot deny that there are some stories about that.” “Wi than?”
Per. 1910  W. Blair Kildermoch 119:
Weel a weel, as I gaed up the banks o' the Minnow Burn.
Mry. 1914  H. J. Warwick Tales 15:
Scarcely is another bargain concluded and the final “Weel, weel, then!” exchanged.
Edb. 1931  E. Albert Herrin' Jennie 34, 50:
“Better see the boss, well”, said the man. . . . “Ach, come away in, well.” . . .
Edb. 1973  :
He didn't do it, well.

4. As in Eng. used in combs. with advs. and ppl.adjs. as weel-aff, well-off, well-to-do (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 208; Gen.Sc..), weel-delv't, well-dug (Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 87), weel-gairdit, well-guarded (Abd. 1933), weel-gaun, -gain, smoothly-moving or -running (Ayr. 1786 Burns To the Unco Guid i., Inventory 10; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 208), see Gae, v., weel-hoordet, well-hoarded (Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween vii.), see Huird, weel-kilted, with short skirts (Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Midcauther Fair 9), weel-maskit, of tea: well-made (Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 36), weel-pleuch'd, well-ploughed (Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 558), weel-saipet, well-soaped (Sc. 1874 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 174), weel-swall'd, well-swollen (Ayr. 1786 Burns To a Haggis iv.), weel-timmered, well-constructed of wood (Ags. 1920 A. Gray Songsfrom Heine 27), etc., etc. For these and others see the second element. Special combs. not or no longer found in Eng., as e.g. where Eng. uses good-, or some other adv., are treated in sep. arts. below.

II. adj. 1. As in Eng., in idiomatic phrs. (1) it's very weel, it's weel and weel eneuch, = Eng. it's all very well (ne.Sc. 1973, weel and weel eneuch); (2) it's weel my pairt, it is right or proper for me (to do something). See Guid, adj., 7. (30); (3) weel befa, good luck to . . .!, a development of (4); (4) weel's me (on), weel is on, as an expression of pleasure or relief: happy am I (because of), blessings on (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. I. 1.; (5) weel's my hert, id.; (6) weel to be seen, having a good or agreeable appearance, very presentable (Bnff. 1934; Abd. 1973); (7) well to do, elated with drink. Cf. (7); (8) weel to live, in comfortable circumstances, well-off, also fig. tipsy, merry with drink (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Now only in Sc. and U.S. See also Leeve, v., 3. (1); (9) weel to pass (in the warld), well-off, affluent, prosperous (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Obs. in Eng.; (10) weel to see, good-looking, comely. Cf. (5); (11) weel upon 't, = (8) (Abd. 1973), used predic. and attrib. (1) Ayr. 1822  Galt Sir A. Wylie xliv.:
It's vera weel o' you, Miss Mary, to tak the first word o' flyting.
Cai. 1960  Edb. John o' Groat Liter. Soc. 6:
That's weel and weel aneuch.
(2) Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xxxviii.:
Weel is it my part, I trow, to do mine.
(3) Slk. 1817  Hogg Poems (1865) 351:
Weel befa this bonnie May.
(4) Sc. 1725  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) II. 198:
Well's me on your bonny face.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 188:
Weels me o' drink, quo' Cooper Will.
Sc. 1806  R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 115:
‘O weel is me,' says Lady Ellen, ‘It shall be run by me.'
Per. c.1820  Lady Nairne Songs (Rogers 1903) 224:
O, weel's me on my ain gudeman! He'll aye be welcome hame.
Sc. 1827  C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. viii.:
Weil's me on the bonnie Oran water.
Rxb. 1847  J. Halliday Rustic Bard 153:
Weels on thee, my ain tartan plaidie.
Ayr. a.1878  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 248:
Ay weels on ye, Maggie McGee, lass.
(5) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 15:
Well's my heart that ye are come alist.
(6) Sh. 1933  J. Gray Lowrie 42:
Doo's brocht up a faemily o' eight, aa weel ta be seen.
Bnff. 1953  Banffshire Jnl. (27 Oct.):
Twa dothers were as weel-tae-be-seen as ony in the hale pairish.
Sh. 1960  New Shetlander No. 54. 15:
He hed a gud look at Tammy, an he wis weel ta be seen.
(7) Sh. 1886  J. Burgess Sketches 52:
He was pretty well-to-do when he left the shop, for there had been a lot of stuff going.
(8) Dmf. 1826  A. Cunningham Paul Jones I. iv.:
A sedate man, and a steeve — well to live in the world.
Fif. 1884  G. Bruce Reminisc. 225:
Pretty “well to live,” and jolly over their adventure with the “Endeavour.”
(9) Sc. 1815  Scott Guy M. xxxviii.:
Ailie and me we're weel to pass, and we would like the lassies to hae a wee bit mair lair than oursells.
Sc. 1837  Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 73:
Ringan was well to pass in the world; his circumstances throve apace.
Ags. 1887  A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 139:
Ebenezer had fa'en into a fell fat thing, an' was weel to pass in the warld.
s.Sc. 1898  E. Hamilton Mawkin xvii.:
A neatness that any well-to-pass housewife might have envied.
(10) Kcb. 1902  Crockett Dark o' Moon vii.:
In person she was short, well-to-see, rosy-cheeked.
(11) Abd. 1875  W. Alexander My Ain Folk 161:
A stobthackit hoose, wi' a but an' a ben, though her fader be weel aneuch upon't.
Abd. 1880  W. Robbie Glendornie ix.:
The like o' me canna affoord t' bring up ma bairns the wye 'at weel upon't fouk can dee.

2. Tipsy, somewhat drunk. Short for weel-to-live s.v. 1. (8). Edb. 1819  Edb. Ev. Courant (9 Jan.) 4:
A pint of whisky had been drunk at Walker's, and they were all pretty well.

3. As in Eng., in good health. In Sc. and U.S. still used attrib. Hence weelness, good health (Cld. 1825 Jam.). Phr. weel at anesel, in good physical condition, plump, stout (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1905 E.D.D.). Lnk. 1888  A. G. Murdoch Readings II. 50:
The Bailie assured his interlocutor that he was full of his usual ‘weelness.'
Sh. 1897  Shetland News (4 Dec.):
He's a weel-hoited craeter an' weel at himsel'.
Wgt. 1912  A.O.W.B. Fables 78:
To win back weelness doctors wad engage.
Sc. 1928  Scots Mag. (July) 272:
The weel men and weemen were juist a mere ruckle o' banes. Very freq. in comb. no (n.Sc. nae) weel, used predic. and attrib., unwell, ill, sick, in poor health. Gen.Sc. Hence no-weelness, illness.
n.Sc. 1698  Fraser Papers (S.H.S.) 39:
He is not weill of a long sickness he hase hade.
Abd. 1749  Abd. Estate (S.C.) 93:
To George Grubb not well . . . 4s.
Crm. 1838  H. Miller Tales (1869) 206:
A' the early part o' that day she seemed to be no weel.
Gsw. 1878  W. Penman Echoes 45:
Prood was I tae lay it doon in my no-weel sister's han'.
Kcb. 1897  A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine 19:
Is't the County Counicl that's makin' ye no' weel?
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 18:
I only help him wi' his lessons because he was sae lang no' weel.
m.Sc. 1915  J. Buchan Thirty-Nine Steps v.:
They ken my kind o' no-weel-ness.
Ags. 1920  A. Gray Songs from Heine 33:
Her lassie's at hame no weel.
Rxb. 1927  E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 9:
She hes ir ain adaes, wui a no-weel man.
Lnk. 1951  G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 68:
Naething but no'-weel kye, an' a yammerin' no-weel wife.
Kcd. 1955  Mearns Leader (13 May):
He doses their nae-weel coos.

4. Of food: fully cooked, ready to eat (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Rxb. 1805  A. Scott Poems 10:
With hunger smit, may hap they seem to feel, Or cry, perhaps, Oh! is the hodgil weel!
Abd. 1813  W. Beattie Parings (1873) 8:
They're unco weel, I think, if ye wou'd let them queel.
Bwk. 1825 ,
Is the denner weel?
Arg. 1902  C. Bede Argyll's Highlands 270:
Their phrase for calling the reapers home to dinner was “Come hame fast; the meat is wul [sic].”
Rxb. 1927  E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 24:
Daursay that egg ull be weel now; it's been toattlin lang eneuch.

[O.Sc. wele, weill, well, from 1375, from an earlier form wēl, found also in North.Mid.Eng., due to lengthening in a closed mono-syllable. O.Sc. has also weill worst, 1564, wealnesse, 1654.]

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"Weel adv., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 May 2019 <>



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