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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FUTTLE, n., v. n.Sc. variants of Eng. whittle. See P.L.D. §§ 59, 134. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A knife, esp. a short-bladed one used by cobblers or herring-gutters (ne.Sc., Ags. 1953), specif. in Cai. of one that is worn or blunt (Cai.8 1934, Cai.7 1953).Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 16:
The Trojan lads right soon wou'd dight you Like a futtle haft.
Bnff. 1872 W. Philip It 'ill a' come Richt 24:
A soncy pig that by hairst-time will be ready for the futtle.
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk-Song xii. 1:
A bunch o' birse, a ball o' wax, . . . And crookit futtles five or sax.
ne.Sc. 1934 Sc. N. & Q. (Nov.) 165:
Death cowes a' wi his futtle.

2. Hence: an inefficient or useless instrument or tool (Cai. 1940 John o' Groat Jnl. (10 May)); a bungler, one who botches his work (Ib.).Ib.:
'E aald futtle o' a machine went sindry.

II. v. 1. To cut, carve with a knife; to whittle. Phr. to futtle the (idle) pin, to idle, to trifle (Mry.1 1928; Bnff.9 1949). Hence n. phr. futtle-the-pin, an idler, loafer (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 57). Cf. Fite, v.Bnff. 1933 M. Symon Deveron Days 18:
Here's sklates and skailies, ilka dask a' futtled wi' a name.

2. To work in a fumbling, incompetent manner, to bungle or botch (Cai. 1940 John o' Groat Jnl. (5 May)), to tinker (Cai.7 1953).

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"Futtle n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Sep 2023 <>



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