Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
YERL, n. Also yearl (Crm. 1854 H. Miller Schools 310; Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 84), yirl (Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 175; Dmf. 1912 J. & R. Hyslop Langholm 682; Mry. 1947 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 218); yarl (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.); yorl (Ags. 1932 A. Gray Arrows 98). Sc. forms of Eng. earl (Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvii., Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxii.; Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 192, Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant i.; s.Sc. 1974). See Y, letter, 2.(2). The Sh. form represents the corresponding O.N., Norw. jarl. Phr. the Yerl o' Hell, (1) the Devil (Sh., m. and s.Sc. 1974); (2) a name for any wild lawless character applied hist. to various persons. See quots. and Earl o' hell. [jɛrl; Sh. jɑrl]
(1) Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 22:
Till he's passed his word as Yerl o' Hell He'd herry him nae mair. (2) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 497:
Yerl o' Hell. The Laird o' Slagarie; one of the wildest wretches ever known in the world. m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iii. xvii.:
Little Will Ruthven, that's him that they ca' the Yerl o' Hell for his deevilry.
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"Yerl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2020 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/yerl>
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