Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HARL, v., n.1, adj. Also harle, haurl(e), haurel, haurll, harel, harrol, harr(e)l, haarl(e); hairl, herl (Dmf.); ¶hirl. [hɑrl, hǫrl, ‡herl]

I. v. 1. tr. To drag, pull, trail behind, haul (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 254; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; I.Sc., Abd., m.Lth., Fif., Bwk., Ayr., Kcb. 1956); intr. to tug, pull (at). Also used fig. Ppl.adjs. ha(i)rlt, worried or tired-looking (Dmf.3 c.1920; m.Lth., Bwk. 1956); harling, of gait: dragging, limping.Sc. 1698 D. Brown Sermon (1717) 15:
O! What will ye do when ye are harl'd down among the Divels . . . the Divels harling you down to Hell.
Sc. 1735 Ramsay Poems (1800) I. 358:
Like them wha aften harl'd Ane useless life up to fourscore.
Sc. 1769 Caled. Mercury (2 Dec.):
Stolen . . . a Brown Mare . . . When she walks, she has a harling pace, before she trot, lame on the far fore-foot, sanded in the sole.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (1925) 62:
O'er the Grayfriars, whare, at mirkest hour, Bogles and spectres wont to tak their tour, Harlin' the pows and shanks to hidden cairns.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xviii.:
They rive the bits o' duds aff our backs, and take what penny o' siller we hae, and harle us to the Correction-house in Leith Wynd.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 55:
For far and near we see them daily toil At plows, and harlin manure to the soil.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xl.:
He's no to harl the plough out o'er the green brae.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 75:
An' hardly ae foot able to haurle Ahin' anither.
Abd. a.1829 J. Sellar Poems (1844) 28:
To psalms and hymns he turn'd his plays; Whiles at the muse he harl'd.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. iii.:
She caused three poor lads to be haurled frae the wild waters.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 54:
Is maitters come tae sic a pass that respectable fock are tae be haurled in the glaur wi' the likes o' you.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 3:
Mans dan toucht hid time tae pass his grip; an' his sins harled him i' the boat.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xx.:
He harled the poor folk out of their bits of dwellings.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 19. 25:
Neist shu raise up an gude till a peerie skaev skelf an haarled doon a aald fiddle.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 192:
' ... It was strange - he was that seik and feeble they'd harl him on a sledge aw the wey frae the Tolbooth, yet when they had him bound tae the stake there seemed a byordinar strength tae his struggles. ... '

Hence (1) harlin, in fig. uses as vbl.n., a drawing of the feeling towards, an affection or inclination for, ppl.adj., affectionate, inclining; (2) comb. †harle-net, a drag-net.(1) Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 7:
I canna say bat I had . . . a kyne o' a harlin favour for her.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 120:
An' as for Poortith, girnin carline! Wha for the Bardies has a harlin.
(2) Ork. 1710 P. Ork. A. S. XII. 56:
Two old cunning nets and ane moor harle net.

2. intr., with refl. force. To drag oneself, trail, move over a surface in a dragging, scraping manner, to move forward slowly, laboriously, with dragging feet (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Ork., Ags. 1956). Phrs.: to harle about, to crawl or creep about, gen. with the idea “of inconstancy, etc.” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1956); to harl tae ane(sel), to drag oneself to one's feet; see also under 4.Sc. 1710 J. Calderwood Collect. Dying Test. (1806) 166:
I had heard the curates and harled after the bulk of the . . . ministers.
m.Lth. 1816 J. Aikman Poems 199:
Black be thy fa', If e'er thy taws owre's hips come harlin.
Bnff. 1853 Banffshire Jnl. (3 May):
But Geordie is a wily carl, Though he canna gang but harl.
Abd. 1855 Greig and Keith Last Leaves (1925) 183:
I canna wear your gowns o silk, They wid harrel at my heel, O.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 16:
Could th'u no' harl tae thee; an' I'se help thee a' I can.
Sc. 1888 W. Black In Far Lochaber I. vii.:
To go away harling here and harling there out o'er the country.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 4:
Feth! it's a dizzy, restless warl', When folk sae heich maun turn and harle.
Ags. 1930 A. Kennedy Orra Boughs 91:
I shut my een and the lids hirl against the balls.

3. To troll for fish with fly or minnow for bait (Per. 1956). Found gen. as vbl.n. Also ppl.adj.s.Sc. 1843 W. Scrope Days & Nights 220:
In the Tay, and some other large rivers, there is another method of fishing with a fly in full water, which is called Harling. Two rods are laid in the bottom of a boat, and hang over the stern, with a large fly attached to each line. The boatman then rows against the stream to the right and left of the rivers, in a zigzag direction.
s.Sc. 1860 J. Locke Tweed and Don 76:
If you harle so as to keep the fly on or near the top of the water.
Sc. 1909 W. L. Calderwood Salmon Rivers 62:
The common practice is to “harl” the large pools [on the river Tay].
Abd. 1933 Fishing Gazette (24 June):
Fly Fishing and Spinning from River Banks. Harling from Boats.
Per. 1995 Daily Record 11 Feb 60:
For many anglers, fishing for salmon at this time of the year is synonymous with trolling on lochs or harling on rivers. The Tay is really the only river where harling goes on....The king of the harling baits is the plug, a wooden or plastic bait.. ..

4. tr. and intr. (1) To gather by trailing or dragging, to scrape, rake (together), e.g. mud from a road (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; em.Sc.(a), Rxb. 1956); fig. to amass money or goods. Comb.: haurl-a-hame, grasping, greedy, omnivorous. Phr.: to harl til anesel, to grasp (at wealth) greedily, “to draw to one's self by griping or violent means” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Cf. Harletillim.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (1925) 35:
The browster wives thegither harl A' trash that they can fa' on.
Rnf. 1792 A. Wilson Poems (1844) 189:
The mair we get by heuk and cruk We aften grow the greedier, Shark raiket now through every neuk To harl till him speedier.
Abd. 1809 J. Skinner Amusements 95:
For cadgers, ye hae heard it said, And sic like fry, Maun ay be harlin in their trade.
Ayr. 1830 C. Lockhart Poems 140:
But I, wi' never-ceasing care, Hae fought, and toil't, and haurl't sair, To add at times a guinea mair.
Bwk. 1831 Border Mag. I. 9:
[She] harled a neifu' o' glaur thegither, an' clash'd it i' my face.
Slg. c.1860 Trans. Slg. Arch. Soc. (1923) 24:
The roadman's claut Has't harled whaur ilka ane, . . . Gangs in't tae the sheckle-bane.
Rnf. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 112:
On his [devil's] haurl-a-hame manner we're a' agree't quite.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xiii. 9:
The gear that's haurl't thegither by cheaterie 'll dwinnle awa some day.

(2) To turn over with a dragging or scraping motion; to turn stored potatoes over in a Clamp (see n.1) so as to remove growing sprouts (Uls.3 1930).Sc. 1858 Sc. Haggis 32:
They'll just harl ower a' thir petitions, pick out my name and the like o' me.

(3) To peel, to rub off the skin, e.g. of potatoes (Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms 24, Uls.3 1930); of the skin itself, to peel off.Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween xxiii.:
Till skin in blypes cam haurlin Aff's nieves that night.

5. To roughcast with lime and small stones. Gen.Sc. Comb.: joint-harl, to point walls (Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Also used fig., of frost on ground, etc.Mry. 1727 W. Cramond Ch. Lhanbryd(1900) 78:
Masons report . . . that several breaches in the walls be filled up and the whole church harled and pinned.
n.Sc. c.1730 E. Burt Letters (1754) I. 65:
On the outside they . . . face the work all over with mortar thrown against it with a trowel, which they call harling.
Bwk. 1760 G. Ridpath Diary (S.H.S.) 335:
Attended the mason who began to harle the office-houses.
Crm. 1795 J. Sinclair Agric. N. Highl. 29:
Several go to the expence of pinning, and at the same time harling or plastering their dykes with lime.
Ork. 1824 P. Ork. A.S. X. 51:
Harling, per Rood . . . £0 3 6
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lviii.:
[She] found him busy rough-casting the outside of it. “Ye're busy harlin', Thomas.”
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 14:
Oh, dinna come, thou kindly carle, Wi' cranreuch a' the fields tae harle.
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 12:
A nice hoose an' weel bielded by the plantin' — brick an' harled, an', as ye see, a red tile roof.
Bch. 1929 J. Milne Dreams o' Buchan 43:
By this the lift ower by the east Wi' silv'ry gray wis harl't.
Sc. 1956 J. Wood Seine Fishers ix.:
A wide slab of harling had fallen away, leaving the bare stonework visible like an open scar.
em.Sc.(b) 1978 John Herdman Pagan's Pilgrimage (1987) 137:
... a tall, narrow house, grim and grey-harled, ...
em.Sc.(a) 1991 Kate Armstrong in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 111:
They harl new hooses. Oor auld leid has taen
a coat o manky pebbledash forbye, that derns
the bricks and mortar o the hert.
Edb. 1992 Helen Crummy Let the People Sing! 20:
Just rows of grey roofed, grey harled, barrack-like, three storied flats.

Hence (1) harler, one who puts roughcast on a wall (Sc. 1938 St Andrews Cit. (8 Oct.) 3); a harling trowel (Edb. 1956); ¶(2) harley, the swift, Cypselus apus (Ags. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 96), so called because of the way it plasters the materials of its nest with saliva.

6. To spread thickly and unevenly.Mry. 1851 D. Paul Poems 72:
An' never want a guid eat farl, Wi' lumps o' butter for to harl, An' mak' it fat.
Ags. 1919 T.S.D.C. III. 15:
Harl . . . To daub the butter here and there over a bannock. When the butter was spread evenly over the surface with a wet thumb, the piece was said to be thoomed. “She wad speir if we wanted the bannock thoomed or harlt.”

II. n. 1. The act of dragging (Sc. 1808 Jam.; m.Lth., Bwk. 1956), a tug; specif. a seraping or raking together (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a limp, a dragging of the legs.Rxb. 1815 J. Ruickbie Poems 68:
Then, with a harl, Out o' baith house and hal' they pack them, To the wide warl'.
Ags. 1880 Brechin Advertiser (27 April) 3:
A gausie elder chap Wi' halt and harel in his walk.
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 6:
Dawdlin' by the hedgesides wi' a graip, Bit jist a clawt and harle in the bygaun.

2. What has been gathered together, as by dragging or scraping; an accumulation, an amount of anything, large or small (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 29; Kcb., Dmf., Uls. 1956), e.g. of money or property obtained “by means not counted honourable” (Sc. 1808 Jam.), or with difficulty or infrequently (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.); specif. the rakings off a stubble field (Ork. 1956); a scrape, a daub. Dim. harlie. Phr. a harl o' bones, a very thin person (Per., Fif., Slk., Uls. 1956).Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 208:
She's very frail, and ony harle o' health she has is about dinner-time.
Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 145:
But, like anither taupit fool, (O' brains he had nae harl).
Dmb. 1817 J. Walker Poems 52:
Just a harl o' Earse an' Scots, Mix'd by chance, like pease an' groats.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmer's Three Daughters IV. 158:
Chirsty has a kind heart, an' no that sma a harle o' common sense.
Dmf. 1838 J. W. Carlyle New Letters (1903) I. 72:
Carlyle keeps saying he is very bilious, etc., but he looks very passably, . . . and has always a good “harl o' health” at meal-time.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xi.:
There's a wee harlie o' succar to put i' yer gab after them.
Per. 1872 Per. Constitutional (8 April):
Anither nicht there had been rather few sowans, and the men were grumblin', when Brownie cried oot o' a corner, “You needna blame me, for I only got twa slags and a harl.”
Abd. 1882 T. Mair John o' Arnha's Latter-Day Exploits 33:
And ower his legs had Arn rankit A harl o' chips by wye o' blanket.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 69:
Their imaginations rinning awa wi' ony bit haurll o' sense they ever had.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona ix.:
See if I cannae get a little harle of justice out of the military man.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 92:
An' the way he splairges ye wi' butter — layin't on in clauts an' harles.

3. A muck-rake (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.), a rake or scraper used for scraping up dung, soft mud, coal dust, cinders, etc. (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 35, haurl; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 163; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcb.3 1929; Ags., Fif., Knr., m.Lth., Bwk. 1956). Cf. Claut, n., 1. (4). Also fig.Bwk. 1718 Stitchill Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 179:
Item for ane harle and a brandon.
Ags. 1827 R. Finlayson Arbroath Documents (1923) 49:
Inventory of Jail: 1 shovel. I whitening brush; 1 harrol, 4 washing coags.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 56:
But tither side trailed like a harle Weel armed wi' mony a fearsome blade.
Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 183:
An' thraw-cruiks, an' harrels for muckin a byre.
Sc. 1889 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 532:
Two or three of the men should each take a mud-hoe or harle, and rake the loose straws and liquid mud.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Bwk. Bard 256:
Aboon the heids o' neibours wha maun still drag puirtith's harl.

4. Fig.: A slattern, a dirty, untidy or coarse person (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 256; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 29, haurl; Ayr., Dmf. (herl), Rxb. 1956); “a rough, coarse, field labourer” (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Adj. harlie, untidy (Rnf.1 c.1920).Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 150:
Thou breeds baith mony a slut and harl, O' slander's nurse!
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 17:
Sae, gie them a scrieve about Howtherin' Jean . . . But siccan a haurel nae mortal e'er saw.
Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Midcauther Fair 11:
Dod, lassock, ye're the very maid for me. We've had sae mony haurls aboot Woodlea.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 159:
Dirty harls a' their days, Baith her and muckle San.

Hence harl(i)wallet, a slattern, good-for-nothing woman (Kcb. 1827 Curriehill, harl-; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., harli-).

5. A mixture of sand and lime used for rough-casting. Gen.Sc.Sh. 1898 J. Burgess Tang ii.:
The gable was white, for the “harl” had been picked off in the spring.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 19:
It was . . . built of gathered surface stones . . . the greater number laid together in a rude fashion, with their hollows filled or flushed over with lime harl.

6. A drag, sledge. Fif. 1831 Fife Herald (27 Jan.):
Much money would have been saved in carrying the stones from the bottom of the new cut to the banks, at which sixteen men and three pair of horses were generally employed. Could not a stone been [sic] as easily laid upon a dyke as a barrow or harle?

III. adj. Mentally deranged, touched in the head, easily unbalanced. This usage is of somewhat doubtful authenticity and may not belong here.Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket vii.:
Our teacher . . . was . . . at times scarcely compos mentis, which the people expressed by saying that he was a little skeir or hirl, or that he wanted tippance o' the shillin'.

[Ultimate origin unknown, phs. a freq. form from onomat. *harr. O.Sc. harl, etc., v., from a.1400, to drag, 1670, to scrape or rake, from 1572, to rough-cast; n. from 1516, a scraper or rake, 1653, a scraping, a small quantity; harle-net, 1672, a drag-net; North. Mid.Eng. harle, c.1290, to drag.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Harl v., n.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: