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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOOL, BOUL, Boull, n.1 Also dim. boolie, boaley. [bul' ′buli Sc., but Ork. + bol, ′bolɪ̢]

1. A marble. Gen.Sc.Sh.(D) 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 36:
Tystie Taamsin wagered me six marbles 'at I widna dü it, an' I wanted da bools.
ne.Sc. 1980 James Fowler Fraser Doctor Jimmy 4-5:
We played rather an unorthodox game with marbles or the 'bools' as they were called. ... Boys would bowl at one another's "bools" and each one that missed was kept by the boy with the "glesser"; if you hit the "glesser", then you got it and the other boy had a shot at it.
Abd.(D) 1920 C. Murray In the Country Places 1:
Syne he rypit his pooches an' coontit his bools, The reed-cheekit pitcher an' a'.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 7:
An fit made it aa the mair vexxin, Davie hid gotten a Steeler - a great glimmerin clort o a boolie tae add tae his collection.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 84:
Boolies knockit wi a skirl frae chalkit rings
an' beezer conkers crackt owre soon,
flin'ert on tirlin strings.
Rnf. 1993 History on your Doorstep, The Reminiscences of the Ferguslie Elderly Forum 10:
You put a bool, a marble, in your kettle to stop it from rusting.
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor xii.:
There go the “bools” and the “peeries,” just as of yore, without the slightest prearrangement among the callants.

Comb.: boolholes, a game of marbles.Ags. 1899 D. Buchanan Leisure Lays 76:
There many a funny game we've played — Fitba', boolholes, and boolyhorn.

Phr.: to hae a bool in one's mou, to speak with a supposedly affected, over-refined accent.Sc. 1995 Sunday Mail 28 May 74:
I'm sorry the pukka Home Counties set don't appreciate a guid Scots tongue. In truth, I'm not overboard about their bools-in-the-mooth accent.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 57:
The stale stank o Ridicule,
The bools in the moo o Pretension,
The soor plooms o Censure,
Whyles yoam frae yon airless chaumer.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 56:
... while a bool in the mooth,
micht catch us a keek at oor ile.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 6:
This Captain wae the bool in his mouth shouts "Fix bayonets!"

2. A bowler's bowl, a “wood.” Gen.Sc.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems 346:
Nor dousser Fowk wysing a Jee The byass bouls on Tamson's Green.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 6:
A game at the bools, noo, or curlin' in the Winter time, or even the racecoorse itsel', would set you far better.

Phrases: (1) the bools row smooth, the boolie rows fine, all goes well; (2) to row a smooth bool, to make matters run smoothly.(1) Sc. 1801 H. MacNeill Poems II. 92:
She soon confessed The bowls row'd right amang the hether.
Sc. 1823 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) VIII. 24:
Until I should see, according to our Scotch phrase, how bowls are to run this season.
Abd.(D) 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 24:
Twa sizzens wi' the cairt an' then — his boolie rowed sae fine — He took a roadside shoppie.
Fif. 1887 “S. Tytler” Logie Town I. xii.:
But bools are not rowing ower smooth between the auld man and the young.
(2) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
“See here, Jims,” he says to me — “ye're a gey pawkie chiel; there's no' mony can row a smoother bool than yoursel. We'll lippen to you.” Attrib. with maill (rent, hire).
Sc. 1701 Acc. Bk. Sir J. Foulis (8 April):
For boull maill at ye potteraw . 0: 3: 6

3. Extended to mean the game. Also in pl.Ork. 1923 D. Horne Kirkwall Games in Ork. Antiq. Socy. 67:
Boys . . . were great on marbles. There were several games, and these were indulged in, as far as I remember, during the spring months. “Boaley” was a favourite of mine.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 7:
Bit there wis naebody tae play boolies wi.
Edb. 1991 Dae Ye Mind ...? Volume Three of Stories and Memories from Members of St. Ann's Reminiscence Group 32:
I had been playing booley when the tuppence wrapped in a bit paper completed its journey from two storeys up, on the back of my skull. The impact coincided with me nickeling my "glessie" and it popped right into the hole. I had won two coloured "glessies"! Yobba-dooby-doo! Oh, my flamin' head!
Edb. 1993:
When I was wee only laddies played at bools.

4. Any other kind of ball or rounded thing, such as a cannon-ball, a bullet, a shinty ball, a rounded stone or pebble; “a sweet” (Slg.3 1935); also a small potato.Sc. 1822 Caled. Mag. & Review I. 411:
The round bool of a stone that lies under it.
Cai. 1934 “Caithness Forum” in John o' Groat Jnl. (19 Jan.):
A . . . gave Princie twa-three dichts wi' a wisp o' strae, an' A'm oot wi' 'im an' up wi' one feet on 'e beig bool 'side 'e stable door.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 7:
Nater has blinded the causie by crumlin' doon the causie bools.
Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 273:
A low mound running nearly parallel with the sea, formed of round water-worn stones or bowls.
m.Sc. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 36:
Big neeps we'll howk for Hallowe'en, Shinties to fung the fleeing bool.
m.Sc. 1924 “O. Douglas” Pink Sugar (1928) xv.:
I was allowed to buy sweets called Market Mixtures, and there were fragments of the pink hearts among the curly-doddies and round white bools, and delicious they tasted.
Edb. 2000:
These new tatties taste guid, but they're terrible tae clean - they're jist bools.
Ayr. 1996:
These wee bools.
Kcb., Dmf. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
bool a small potato.
Slk. 1957 Hist. Mon. Slk. (H.M.S.O.) 34:
They [naturally-rounded boulders used as gravestones] were brought from the older burial ground at Over Kirkhope and were known locally as "bulls".

5. A stone ball used in a game or pastime of rolling or throwing it in a series of progressions over long distances. Rs. 1955 Press & Jnl. (3 Jan.):
An ancient game of "bools" was revived at Rosemarkie and Fortrose on New Year's morning. The game is played by four teams, two starting from Fortrose and two from Rosemarkie. Each team has a round ball, about the size of a tennis ball, and weighing about four pounds.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 40:
"Weel, weel," said Duncan; "here's a bool; Throw frae the mark; mind, that's the rule."

[O.Sc. boull, bowl, booll, one of the balls used in the game of bowls, the game itself; a ball or globe (D.O.S.T.): Fr. boule, ball, spherical body; Lat. bulla, bubble, round knob.]

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"Bool n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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