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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FILL, v., adj. Also †fil. Sc. usages:

I. v. 1. To pour (out). Gen. (exc. I. and s.) Sc. Now only arch. in Eng. Also, rarely, to empty by pouring (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 112).Ayr. 1790 Burns Go, Fetch to Me i.:
Go, fetch to me a pint o' wine, And fill it in a silver tassie.
Edb. 1847 R. Chambers Traditions 67:
She always sat next him and filled his wine.
Sc. 1931 J. Wilkie Bygone Fife 280:
The sacks were promptly emptied, the tea filled in instead.

2. In handloom weaving: to fill the bobbins with yarn, ready for placing in the shuttle (Ags., Fif. 1950).Abd. 1888 Bon-Accord (3 March) 20:
Long may she live the needle to thread, And also the “spoolies” to fill.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xii.:
Nanny went to the loom in his place, filling as well as weaving.
Ags. 1946 “D. Twitter” Tales 3:
My mither filled purns at Don's afore she wiz merrit.

3. Phrs.: (1) fill an fesh ben (fetch mair), see Fesh, B. 4.; (2) to fill drunk, — fou, to make drunk. Gen.Sc. Hence fill fou, n., enough liquor to intoxicate (Ags.19 1951); (3) to fill up, to increase in bulk or girth (Abd., Ags., Arg., Ayr., Kcb. 1950).(2) Sc. 1829 Scott Journal (1891) II. 223:
Not only am I filled drunk, or made stupid at least, with one bottle of wine.
Ayr. 1833 Galt Howdie, etc. (1923) 165:
They thought to fill me fou, but Heighland blood knows betters.
Per. 1842 J. Stewart Poems (1857) xli.:
Three fellows who had been bribed with the promise of a fill-fou.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Hist. Rebellion 176:
He got himself filled so extremely drunk.
Abd. 1877 W. Alexander Rural Life 133:
It was the express will o' the dead that I should fill ye a' fou.
Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (26 April) 19:
They want to get a “good fill fou” before the whisky rises in price.
(3) Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 285:
It's a pity the lad's no a wheen inches taller. I like to see a guid presence in a preacher, but he'll may-be fill up.

4. To load (peats, etc.) (Sh., Abd. 1975). Cf. Full, v., 2.Abd. 1763 Abd. Jnl. (7 March):
On Saturday, as a man was filling peats in the moss of Peterhead.

5. Of the tide: to flow. Only in ppl.adj. fillin in phr. fillin sea, a flow tide, and vbl.n. fillans, the tide.Abd. c.1890 Gregor MSS.:
The tide is called the fillans. Cows calve when the tide is ebbing, and never to a "fillin sea".

II. n. That which fills, the amount necessary to fill (a container) to the full (ne.Sc., Ags. 1953). Rare or obs. in Eng. and now gen. expressed by the suffix -ful.Rnf. 1806 R. Tannahill Poems (1876) 115:
I'll treat you wi a Hieland gill, Tho it shou'd be my hindmaist fill.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 47:
I like the fill o' my han', whate'er it be.
Abd.27 1953:
Tak the fill o your han o meal; nae mair nor the fill o a tayspeen; the fill o a gless o whisky; eneuch tae be the fill o's pipe till 'im.

III. adj. Full (Ork.5, ne.Sc. 1952).Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) II. 286:
All the prisons wer fil; but of all the prisoners those in the French servise had the greatest liberty granted them.
Abd. 1794 W. Farquhar Poems 169:
Tir'd at last o' work an' siller, Whan nae ae pouchie can be filler.
Mry. 1927 E. B. Levack Lossiemouth 36:
Weel, dinna gang intil Bybrady's beeldin's for the're fil o' boags.

[The adj. use may arise from the pa.p. fill'd, with loss of d final as in ne.Sc. See D, 2.]

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"Fill v., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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