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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

YOWL, v., n. Also yowll, youl(l); yeul, yewll (Ayr. 1788 J. Lapraik Poems 109), yool(l), yule, and deriv. ¶yoolugh- (cf. Yelloch). [jʌul]

I. v. To bark, howl, yell, waul, of dogs or other animals (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1820 Scots Mag. (May) 452; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); of persons: to bawl, wail (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 96; Sh. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iv. 173), to sing in a tuneless manner (Watson), to complain, whine, grumble querulously, make an outcry (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 500, yeul); fig. of a bell: to toll mournfully. Gen.Sc., also in Eng. and U.S. dial. Vbl.n. yoolughan, howling, screaming, lamentation (Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick II. vii.); agent n. youler, a howling dog (Ayr. 1817 D. McKillop Poems 135).Sc. 1706 J. Watson Choice Coll. i. 38:
It made me Yelp, and Yeul, and Yell.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 19:
His Dog its lane sat yowling on a Brae.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 102:
I gave him a hearty blow upon his ear with my rung which caused him go about yuling.
Sc. 1793 “Tam Thrum” Look before ye Loup 27:
They have been youlin' o'er this unlucky phrase the swinish multitude.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. IX.:
Truly I ken nae title they have to be yowling and howling.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Justified Sinner (1874) 504:
Fat the deil are ye yoolling an' praying that gate for?
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 144:
If an hour I bide out loud she greets an' she yowls.
Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm xli.:
The great bell o' the castel yowlt oot.
Ork. 1884 R. M. Fergusson Rambles 246:
Hid wus her that meed a' the sair meen an' lood yowlin'.
Gall. 1903 E.D.D.:
He porked the bear with a stick till it yowled.
m.Sc. 1919 J. Buchan Mr Standfast viii.:
The teetollers yowlin' about the nation's shame.
Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 18:
Lood the mannie yowled, wi' a heich skirlin' soun'.
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 42:
Repentant o my infidelitie
And thae sculdudderie warks
Frae La Fontaine, Crebillon, Busny-Rabutin
I brocht intil the Advocates' Library,
That sent the pack o them yowlan at my heels
Like whulpies lowpan at Tod Lowrie's brush.

II. n. A howl, whine or mournful cry made by a dog or other animal (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Uls. 1953 Traynor); a yell, wail, shriek, from a human being (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. Derivs. yewly, adj., given to howling, complaining, querulous; youllie, n., a nickname for a policeman, “a low term, probably formed from their youling or calling the hours” (Edb. 1825 Jam.); also a nickname for a native of Aukengill in Cai., “perhaps from high-pitched voice” (Cai. 1972 Caithness Bk. (Omand) 260). Comb. port yowl in phr. to sing port yowl, to howl, lament vociferously. See Port, n.2, Combs. 2.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 93:
Sick yowls an' yells, as wad hae thirl'd a stane.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 24:
To the bites O' the devouring pack, without a yowl, Submits.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1866) i.:
The dog gae twa or three melancholy yowls.
Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 134:
Gi'e a yowl to the grieve, Willie.
Slk. 1874 Border Treasury (22 Aug.) 53:
What does thou want wi' gloves, thou yewly beast?
Sc. 1896 A. Cheviot Proverbs 178:
I'll gar ye sing Port yowl.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 223:
Oscar pouring out his affection with a Yowl! Yowl! Yowl!
Ork. 1904 W. T. Dennison Sketches 16:
The mester fiend o' a yowl 'at the Laird ga'e whin he got the haet poker i' his flesh.
Ags. 1928 Scots Mag. (July) 273:
Siccan a yowl as never he'd heard in his life afore.

[Now chiefly dial. in Eng. O.Sc. ȝoul, to howl, a.1400, a howl, 1450, Mid.Eng. youle, id.]

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"Yowl v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jul 2024 <>



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