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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.

CHIELD, CHIEL, Cheil, Cheel, Sheeld, Shield, n. Also dims. chielie, chielag (Cai.7), chieldie, and double dim. chielachie. See also Chile and Cheelder. [tʃild, tʃil Sc.; ʃild Sh., Cai. For loss or retention of d, see P.L.D. §§ 64.1, 91, 93.5, 113, 124; and for sh for ch, see § 154]

1. A child; a boy or girl. “A little boy” (Rs.1 c.1911, chielachie). Known to Cai.7, Abd. and Fif. correspondents, Slg.3, Edb.1, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1939. Also in phr. wi' chiel, with child, pregnant.Sc. 1703 Seafield Corresp. (S.H.S.) 361:
I dou ashour you no chield you have onours loues or astimes you mor.
Sc. 1993 Herald 24 Nov :
Redundancies in the coal, fishing, building, salmon farming, beef rearing, newpaper and heavy industries all announced in the same month and the Government looking about as plausible as a bunch of wee chiellies dressed up as politicians for a Halloween fancy-dress party.
Abd. 1787 A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess Act II. Sc. ii.:
An honest ouman, that ye ken fu' well, Taul' me, for certain, that she is wi' chiel.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xiii.:
My son Benjie was . . . between four and five years old when — poor wee chieldie! — he took the chincough, and in more respects than one, was not in a good way.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) iv.:
He was an awfu' chiel for airtin' ither boys into scrapes and steerin' clear himsel'.

2. Also childe. A man, a young man. Familiarly, a “fellow.” May be used contemptuously or affectionately. Known to Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.17, Fif.13, Slg.3, Arg.1 1939. Also fig.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 62:
Sometimes I'll act a Cheil that's dull, Look thoughtfu', grave, and wag my Scull.
Sc. 1983 John McDonald in Joy Hendry Chapman 37 46:
Yon chiel - deid nou -
tycein'm, the spreid airms tycein'm,
tycein'm tae's breast.
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 30:
The son brak out in lauchter:
"There's a twa-three chiel at the inn
Can mak a hantle o siller
An'll show me hou it's duin!"
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 34:
This was a sairlik jobe tae tak,
an gif the chiel was no sae swack
o mynd as caw gy caunnilie,
but gabbit gyan coorselik, say,
he'd finnd the waefou news as ill.
Sc. 2000 Herald 14 Nov 17:
Lady Wheatley engaged Dr Tom Carberry, former chairman of the IBA in Scotland, in conversation: "Do you know my son-in-law?" When Dr Carberry replied in the affirmative, she said: "He's a daft chiel!"
Sc. 2004 Herald 24 Jan 14:
Our traditional music should indeed be always in the foreground when we discuss funding for the arts in Scotland. But facts are chiels that winna ding.
Sh. 1993 Shetland Times 24 Sep 43:
A finer shield shu cudna meet.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 139:
'He's an awful chiel, this Dougie,' said Donald's Jamie to the girl. 'It's a wife he's needing to keep him under control.'
- The old goat. What does it matter to him:? What can I do now? Standing here like a glaiked chiel.
Sth. 1996 Eddie Davies in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 36:
You know that old saying about the Travellers, 'We cheils and cuckoos are alike in many respects, but especially in character, everybody speaks ill of us both - but everyone's glad to see us again!'
Bnff. 1924 Burnie's Jeannie in Swatches o' Hamespun 23:
There's a young chiel comes in aboot wi' a motor at antrin times.
ne.Sc. 1986 Peter Mowatt in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 155:
"Thon chiel's queer as a bent widden leg. That's the maitter."
ne.Sc. 2004 Press and Journal 6 Sep 12:
John Reid wis a shy lad, so much so that he nivver leet dab tae his fella-fairmin chiels o his passion for readin and writin and even fin he meev't tae the toon, wi his reputation risin as an aathor, ere wis nae myowt as tae fa es David Toulmin wis.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 90:
Baith soon an' well, my cheel, mat ye come back.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 2:
"Heilan buggers," ae weel-kent Buchan fairmer chiel caad the Howe fowk, though Gaelic hid deed oot twa hunner year or mair frae the muirs an skelps o clachans aboot the place.
m.Sc. 1986 Colin Mackay The Song of the Forest 67:
" ... Now the master must have been a right brave childe, and he didna take kindly at all to Death walking round scaring folk, so he went down to the town of Jerusalem ... "
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 16:
A chiel that ne'er will be respekit While he draws breath.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems and Songs 35:
I'm no' the first auld chield wha's gotten a slight.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Dream iv.:
But Facts are cheels that winna ding, An' downa be disputed.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Brownie of Bodsbeck, etc. II. ii.:
Ye're an auld-farrant honest chiel!

3. A young woman; also used as a term of endearment (Fif.1 1939).Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 140:
For weel I wat wi' joy I grat Tae t'ink the lass wus mine; Sae there I wan the sauncy chield.
Abd. 1759 F. Douglas Rural Love 23:
She laid her hand on Meggy's head; And said, my chiel I'm gaen to die.

4. Phrases: (1) chaumer chiel, see Chaumer, n., 4; (2) chiel (cheel) (n)or chare (chair), kith (n)or kin, chick (n)or child. For chare cf. 1; (3) the Auld Chiel', — sheeld, the Devil (Abd.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1939).(2) Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 348:
Wi' a gude stane house, an' a pantry bein, An' chiel nor chare to want them frae him.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 67:
Heard ye nae word gin he had cheel or chair, Or he a jo, that had the yellow hair?
(3) Sh. 1932 J. M. E. Saxby Sh. Trad. Lore 180:
You referred to him [the devil] as . . . the auld sheeld.
Bch.(D) 1926 P. Giles in Abd. Univ. Review (July) 222:
A widna 'a' thocht, noo, 'at ye wid 'a' liket t' be mix't up wi' dealin's wi' the Auld Chiel'.

[O.Sc. has cheld, cheild, a child, a.1400; a boy, lad, young fellow, 1488, variant of child: also childe, a girl or young woman, a.1400, and chalmer-cheild (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Chield n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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