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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.

CANNLE, Cannel, Can'le, Cawnle, Caunle, Connel, n. Sc. forms of Eng. candle. Also used in various Eng. combs., e.g. cannle-licht, -maker, can'lestick, and in phrases, e.g. to haud a cannel tae, to licht the can'le at baith ends. The form candle is illustrated here only in Sc. usages and the spelling is deceptive. The Gen.Sc. pronunciation is [kɑ(:)nl] except in I.Sc. The examples with d are due mostly to literary, school or church influences. [kɑ(:)nl n.Sc., m.Sc., s.Sc., Ant., but n.Ayr., Lth., Edb. + kǫ:nl and e.Per. kənl; kɑ:ndl Sh.]

1. A candle (caunle Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 12–13:
But the mystery o' life canna gang out like the pluff o' a cawnle.
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 88:
The feck hae notions o an auld carle
daffin 'kypes', an plunkin planets.
I lou the unkent virr
that brenns me as yon caunle brenns.
ne.Sc. a.1835 J. Grant Tales of the Glens (1836) 94:
M'Nab [said] to his wife; “ha'e ye sic a thing's a can'le, my thrifty hen?”
Ags. 1993 Mary McIntosh in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 112:
He pit his ee tae the gaig. It wis the skimmer o a caunle, the low gien smaa licht.
wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 35:
Skinnymalinky so-ca'd flappers canny haud a caunle
Tae a real wummin lik' you, yir too hoat tae haunle.
wm.Sc. 1986 Robert McLellan in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 31:
I hae to coont his pulse afore I stert. (To Janet and McKillop) Haud caunles close, will ye?
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 29:
Ye can light a connel ...
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae 'Mang Lowland Hills 50:
In cauld back-ends I've studden there, Beside the cannel's flickerin' flare.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 28:
His faither keepit a bit shop, and sell't . . . caunles, spunks, and siclike.

2. Sing. form used instead of pl. or as a collective. Known to Abd.9 1938.Sc. [1779] J. Beattie Scoticisms (1787) 23:
A bunch of candle.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary (1818) xxvi.:
In a grand chamber, a' hung wi' black, and lighted wi' wax cannle.
Hdg. 1876 J. Teenan Song and Satire 23:
They voted seeven pund o' caun'le For the wundows o' the puir.

3. “A corpse light” (Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2 1938).Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 95:
About a hundred years ago, When fairies wander't to an' fro, An' forgoes aft were seen an' heard, An' candles gaed to yon kirk-yard In blue lows blinkin'.

4. Combs.: (1) can'le-doup, candle-dowp, a candle-end; see Doup, n.1, 3 (2). Gen.Sc.; (2) candle-fir, “fir that has been buried in a morass, moss-fallen fir, split and used instead of candles” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2); known to Bnff.2, Abd.2, Abd.9 1938; (3) can'le-futtle, -gullie, “a large knife for splitting up bog-fir to make candles” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 22), see Futtle and Gullie; not known to our correspondents; (4) caunlelicht, Sc. form of Eng. candlelight; (5) candle spail, a drip of wax from a burning candle, looked upon as an augury of ill to the one in whose direction it ran. See Spail, n., 5; (6) cannle-stick, “a boy who stands on the centre of a plank in see-saw, to control the alternate sway” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (7) candle-whittle = (3) (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); see Whittle; (8) candle-wick, transf. a local name for the long-tailed duck, Clangula hiemalis (see quot.).(1) Sc. 1893 R. L. Stevenson Catriona xii.:
The goodman brought . . . a candle-dowp to eat it by, about eleeven.
Fif. 1896 “G. Setoun” R. Urquhart iii.:
Mony a can'le-doup I've kent gutter an' gang out leavin' me to crawl into bed i' the dark.
(2) Sc. 1760 Decisions Court of Session in Fife v. Farquharson:
Another destructive practice . . . was cutting out the hearts of the finest [fir] trees to serve for candle-fir.
Abd.(D) 1877 W. Alexander North. Rural Life in 18th Cent. vi.:
Thin “splits” of fir taken off logs that had been dug up in mosses and twisted into a sort of rope . . . were “sold ready made under the name of fir tethers”; and . . . “when no longer fit to be used as a tether, they are employed as candle fir.”
(3) ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Echo of Olden Time 17:
There was a niche or bole in the wall on each side of the hearth — the one containing a tobacco-pipe or two, a tobacco box, a can'le-gullie, and perhaps a few books.
(4) Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 23:
The Tarlan Tink's as black as tar
An his lugs cud dee wi a dicht.
He steers his shelt bi the Northern Star
An he rides bi caunlelicht.
(5) Sc. 1873 J. Fraser Humorous Chap-Books 36:
The rites of New Year and the 'candle spail' were regarded with reverence and fear.
(8) Ags. 1904 J. M. Campbell Notes on Bell Rock 33:
Sea pheasant is the name by which the long tailed duck is known in some localities. Here they are known as "candlewicks," their call notes needing but little stretch of the imagination to be rendered "Here's a candlewick," repeated several times in shrill falsetto.

Phr.: neither to dance nor haud the cannle, to do neither one thing nor the other, to take no part in any proceedings, "to sit on the side lines", to refuse to participate (Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 83; Lnk. 1910 C. Fraser Glengonnar 63; Ags. 1975).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 367:
You will neither dance, nor hold the Candle — That is, you will neither do, nor let do.

[O.Sc. has canell, as well as various forms with d (D.O.S.T.).]

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



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