Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHEEPLE, v., n.1 Also whipple; wheeble; wheeffle; redupl. form wheeple-whap(p)le; and with variant freq. ending wheeper (Abd., Ags. 1974), cf. Wheeber. [ʍipl]

I. v. 1. intr. (1) To whistle shrilly or with a long drawn-out note, of a bird such as the curlew or plover, or transf. of the wind (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 473; Lnk., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Ags., Per., wm.Sc. 1974), to chirp, cheep (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Agent n. wheepler, the redshank, Tringa totanus (Lnk., Ayr. 1974), vbl.n. wheeplin. Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck II. 323:
Like Redwings wheepling in the mist.
s.Sc. 1843 Whistle-Binkie (1890) II. 231:
List the sandy lav'rock's ca', Lood wheeplin' out his strain.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 91:
'Mong gowden whuns the wheeplin' linties big.
Sc. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in Wind 10:
Cauld, cauld the wheeplin wind.
Ags. 1948 Forfar Dispatch (1 April):
Harkenin tee wheeplin ee merlie a' at ane and the same time.

(2) Of persons: to whistle (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 249), esp. in a tuneless or ineffectual manner (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Ags. 1974); to blow on a whistle, to tootle. Also contemptuously of a church organ. Agent n. wheepler, a poor whistler (Uls. 1924 Northern Whig (8 Jan.)). Per. a.1837 R. Nicoll Poems (1877) 187:
We've a' been heathens — now we pray, And sing and wheeple.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vi.:
His constant habit o' wheeplin' awa till himsel'.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 245:
Alang the drowsy bent cam the wheepling o' a whaup.
Abd. 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 5:
He wheepled on't at mornin'.
Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (11 Dec.) 13:
“It's easy wheeplin whun yir on the tap o' the dyke” means “It is easy being joyful when you are prosperous and successful.”
Gsw. 1936 G. Blake David & Joanna ii.:
The wheepling notes of the organ.
Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (15 Aug.):
Ah thocht Ah'd tint the airt o' wheeplin' lang syne.
Edb. 1973 J. K. Annand Twice for Joy 35:
Wheeplin on the whustle Tootlin on the flute.

2. tr. To whistle (a tune) (Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters x.; ne.Sc., Ags. 1974). Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 120:
Tae wheeple-whapple a' yon peerless skynotes o' the laverock.
Dmf. 1914 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo 116:
Wheeplin, “Tramp, tramp, tramp, the boys are marchin'.”
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 5:
I have heard the linties wheeplin' oot their praise.

3. To whine, whimper (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags. 1974). Ags. 1848 Feast Liter. Crumbs (1891) 34:
Nae whingin', cringin', wheeplin' whaper.
Ags. 1880 J. Watt Poet Sk. 52:
She wheepled a wee, like a whaup in rough weather.

II. n. 1. The shrill call or whistle of a bird, esp. the curlew (Sc. 1815 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) XII. 153, wheeble; Slk. 1964 Southern Reporter (7 May) 11, whipple; Ork., ne.Sc., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1974). Also attrib. wm.Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 601:
I wad na' gi'e the wheeple of a whaup for a the nightingales that ever sang.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Works 112:
Ye wheeple-whaple shore traversers, Go rin and squeal upon the marches.
Slk. 1899 C. M. Thomson Drummeldale 170:
The plaintive wheeple of a belated whaup.
Ags. 1945 Scots Mag. (April) 43:
The wheeple o' a whaup fae the Mossy-muir.
Bnff. 1955 Banffshire Jnl. (20 Sept.):
The robin's heich, thin wheeple o' a sang.

2. A tuneless, unmusical whistling or playing on a whistle, an ineffectual attempt at whistling (Sc. 1888 C. Mackay Dict. Lowl. Sc. 273; Uls. 1953 Traynor); “a shrill intermitting note, with little variation in tone” (Sc. 1808 Jam., wheeple, wheeffle). Dmf. 1873 A. Anderson Song of Labour 102:
For frae mornin' till nicht it's a wheeple an' skirl, Till my lugs at sic music dae naething but dirl.

3. A shrill complaint, whine, squeal or the like. Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 7:
I've swung In public penance, nor gi'ed tongue To girn or wheeple.

[Freq. form of Wheep, with onomat. variants.]

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"Wheeple v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2021 <>



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