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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

KILL, n.1 Also kil (Ork. 1909 Old-Lore Misc. II. i. 29), kyll (Sc. 1704 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 351), kell (Abd. 1789 Mores Croft MS. Valuation). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. kiln, in quots. mostly referring to the old type of kiln, consisting of a lattice-work of beams supporting a bed of straw with the grain strewed upon it, and a lower chamber containing the fire. [Sc. kɪl; I.Sc. + kjɪl]

1. Combs. and Phrs.: (1) at kill or mill, in public. Cf. kirk or mill s.v. Kirk, II. 2.; (2) draw-kill, see Draw, v., 17.; (3) kilnace, -laece, the main beam which supported the drying floor of a kiln (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1960) [ < Norw. ås, O.N. áss, pole, rafter, with phonological development as in mainland Sc.]; (4) kiln-ark, a large chest or receptacle for storing or holding the dried grain (Mry.1 1928). See Ark, n.1, 1.; (5) kil(l)-barn, kiln-, the barn or storehouse for grain adjoining a kiln (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Ork.1 1960); (6) kil(n)-beddin, the packed straw on the drying floor of a kiln, over which the grain was spread (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 94; Mry., Abd. 1928; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh. 1960); (7) kiln-breist, the arch over the entrance to a kiln (Ayr. 1902 E.D.D.; Dmf. 1960); (8) kiln-carle, see quot.; (9) kilncast, the quantity of oats taken to the mill at one time to be ground into meal for household use, gen. enough to produce 4 bolls (Wgt. 1896 66th Report Brit. Ass. 619, Wgt. 1960); (10) kiln-cloth, a cloth on which grain was laid in a kiln. Obs. in Eng. since 17th c.; (11) kill-crack, a small crack appearing in the glazing of pottery which has cooled at an uneven temperature, gen. in ppl.adj. kill-crackit, covered with such cracks (Ork., ne. and em.Sc.(a), Slk. 1960). Also fig. a trivial blemish; (12) kill door, the steps up to the entrance to a kiln (Abd.9 1941; Sh. 1960). See also 3. (1); (13) kill-ee, the open space in front of a kiln fireplace (Ayr. 1902 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd.9 1941). Cf. Ee, n., v.1; (14) kill-fud(die), “the aperture by which the fuel is put into the kiln” (Kcd. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). See Fud, n., 5.; (15) kill-gloy, = (6) (Sh. 1960). See Gloy; (16) kiln-grish, see Grish; (17) kiln-head, the roof of a kiln forming the floor of the drying chamber, on which the grain is spread to dry (Sh. 1960). Cf. Heid, n., 5.; (18) kiln heugh, the open space in front of a kiln fireplace (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1960). Cf. Heuch, n.1; (19) kiln ingle, the kiln fire (Bnff. 1960); (20) kill kebbar, -er, one of the beams or joists which support the drying floor (Abd. 1894 Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 125). Cf. Caber, n., 4.; (21) kill-man, the man in charge of a corn-kiln (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (22) kiln-mathie, the space at the back of the fire in a kiln, below the drying loft. For the second element, cf. mather s.v. Madder; (23) kill-meat, a portion of the husked grain which falls to the share of the under-miller (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (24) killogie, see Killogie, n.; (25) kill-plate, one of the perforated metal plates forming the surface of the drying floor in present day kilns (Ork., Cai., Fif., Dmf. 1960); (26) kiln-pot, the heating chamber under a corn-kiln (Gall. 1903 Gallovidian V. 114; Kcb. c.1914; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Cf. Killogie and Gregor Folk-Lore 84. See also 1901 quote; (27) kill-rammek, -remmek, a joist in a kiln (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), = (20); (28) kill-rib, one of the small moveable wooden bars laid across the kiln-joists to support the bed of straw on the drying floor (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1960), “parallel stone bars” (Uls. 1953 Traynor); (29) kiln-ring, the open space in front of a kiln fireplace; (30) kiln-scoop, a scoop for use in a kiln; (31) kill-simmer, = (28) (Sh. 1960). See Simmer; (32) kill-sluggie, = Killogie, 2. (Sh. (s. and Fair Isle) 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960). See Sluggie; (33) kill-spendin, “an old term for the fire of a kiln, from the great expenditure of fewel” (Ags. 1808 Jam.); (34) kiln-stead, the site on which a kiln stands (Sh. 1960); (35) kiln-stick(le), = (20) (Bnff. 1880 J. F. S. Gordon Chrons. Keith 107; Sh. 1960). See Stick, Stickle; (36) kiln-strae, = (6) (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc. 1960); (37) kiln-straik, -strike, kail-, = (6) (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Dmf. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 92, -strike). See Straik, n. 9., Streek, n.3; (38) kil(l)timmer, = (20), fig. a term of abuse for a woman of doubtful character (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.), a bold, loud-voiced, uncouth woman, a virago (Abd. 1925). Cf. quot. under (20) and Caber, 6.; (39) kill-tree, = (20) (Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 170; I.Sc. 1960); (40) strae-kill, see quot.; (41) the kill's on fire, — in a bleeze, used to denote a state of newly stirred-up tumult or excitement (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ags., Lth. 1960), = Eng. “the fat is in the fire”; (42) to fire the kill, to kindle a flame (Sc. 1808 Jam.), to start up trouble, to raise a commotion (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., m.Lth. 1960); (43) to set the kill on fire, — a-low, id. (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh. 1960); (44) to store the kill, to keep going, to carry on, to survive, last the pace (Abd.27 1920), a variant of to store the kin, see Kin, Store.(1) Slg. 1788 G. Galloway Poems 34:
When little mair we heard of you, But news at kill, or mill.
(3) Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. ii. 82:
Here at the height of four feet from the ground the wall was three feet thick, but from this part upwards the wall was thinner, leaving a ledge of four inches right round the interior of the kiln. A strong beam called the kiln-laece, about four inches square, was fixed across the opening at such height, as that sticks laid with one end resting on the beam and the other end resting on the projecting stone-work, formed a perfectly level floor.
(5) Ork. 1766 P. Fea MS. Diary (6 Feb.):
Got some bear put to Kiln barn for drying.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 47:
Mony an oorlich night I've lien In caul' kill-barns, 'mang beddin' thin.
Ags. 1870 Brechin Advert. (18 Jan.) 4:
The hillock an' the auld kiln-barn, They stood back in the rear.
(6) m.Sc. 1773 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (16 March):
On Saturday se'en-night the embers in a kiln at Fullwood, near Paisley, seized upon the kiln-bedding, and set it on fire.
Bnff. 1894 Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 125:
Over these [stickles] was laid a quantity of straw, all “drawn” and placed quite smooth. This straw was called “beddin” or “kiln-beddin”. From it comes the proverbial expression “As dry's kiln-beddin”, which is still applied to anything extremely dry, especially to hay or grain ready to be stacked.
Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc. 63:
Tell the miller o' Steenyrigg tae see at his kil' beddin' is clean sweepit.
(8) Abd. 1894 Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 126:
A creature called the “kiln-carle” was believed to dwell in the “logie”. He was of a savage disposition, at least if provoked. No one would have been bold enough to have gone to a kiln during night and challenged him with the words: — Kiln-carle teethless, Come oot an mack me eesless.
(9) Dmf. 1828 Caled. Mercury (18 Sept.):
At the Town Mills, different melders of oats have been milled. . . . In general they have yielded at the rate of a stone and quarter per bushel. . . . One “kill cast” averaged as high as a stone and a half.
(10) e.Lth. 1857 J. Paterson Musselburgh 65:
Curled hair, hair kiln-cloth, hair-lines, and all kinds of fishing hair.
(11) Edb. 1866 J. Inglis Poems 75:
For time's bit gew-gaws, wifie, never mourn, Nor wi' sic kilcracks pit yersel' aboot.
(12) Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 84, 221:
My banes are sore, as da kill door Is nae saft bed to sleep in. . . . In the kiln door the fiddler reposed in deep slumber beside his fiddle.
(17) Per., Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVIII. 349:
Every corn mill has now a kiln contiguous to it; the kiln-heads are of cast iron, which occasion a considerable saving in respect of straw and fuel.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 142:
Whin da lasses comes hame, dey can fling dere clews doon da kill head, an say “wha haads i' my clew end”.
(19) ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 176:
He sought no other means of filling up his time than to feed the kiln ingle with the “sids” or husks of oats.
(20) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 236:
Witches . . . mak use of cats to ride upon, or kill-kebbers, and besoms.
(21) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 87:
An hollow tube made of Boretree, used by kill-men to blow through, and rouse their seed fires, or fires fed by the husks of corn.
Abd. 1950 Abd. Press & Jnl. (13 Oct.):
Wanted, Dryster or Kiln man, for night shift.
(22) Abd. 1889 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 61:
Much of the grain fell through, and every now and then it had to be gathered out of the kiln mathie or empty space at the back of the fire.
(26) Gall. 1704 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 122:
She went on the Sabbath morning and took up a lapfull of dry corn which was lying in the kiln pot.
Sc. 1741 D. Hume Punishment of Crimes (1797) II. 241:
The mill . . . was broke open by a mob, and meal and kiln-pot oats carried off from thence.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xi., Note:
Steal out, all alone, to the kiln, and, darkling, throw into the pot, a clew of blue yarn . . . and answer will be returned from the kiln-pot, by naming the christian and sirname of your future Spouse.
Kcb. 1901 Alexander Trotter East Galloway Sketches 405:
On nearly every farm in this district [Carsphairn] there are one or more of these curious depressions called kiln-pots, used for drying oats in preparation for being bruised in the querns or hand-mills when ordinary mills were not available.
 (28) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 215:
As poor John was in an auld kill . . . the kill-ribs brake and down he goes with a vengeance into the logie.
(29) Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 206:
The cattie sits in the kiln-ring, Spinning, spinning.
(30) e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep Head 202:
A box O' “Kiln-scoops” new an' white, man.
(31) Sh. 1951 Sh. Folk. Bk. II. 81:
The sticks (called in Dunrossness, kiln-simmer), reaching from the circular wall of the kiln.
(34) Bte. 1728 Rothesay T. C. Rec. (1935) II. 718:
Six foots of ground north ward from the noreast corner of his kiln stead and twentie foots of ground of length from the west corner of the said Kiln stead.
(35) Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 23:
The straw covering the kiln-sticks was specially prepared by being drawn, i.e. pulled out and straightened. A layer of this was placed next to the kiln-sticks, and over this again a quantity of straw was loosely shaken out. Several bushels of oats were then spread on the straw.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 214:
At the widest part where the outward building stopped there was a ledge all round, in which were two holes opposite one another — one hole being in the centre of the kiln door. In these holes the “kiln stick” was laid. This was a stout beam of wood with notches cut on the top side. Then varying lengths of wood called “kiln trees” were fitted into those notches and the outer ends rested on the ledge already mentioned.
(36) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (10 Feb.):
Da links 'ill geng like kilnstrae, if I lowse dem wi' dis frost.
(38) Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 65:
A lot o' gey roch leukin kiltimmers the maist o' them wur, weel awyte.
(39) Sh. 1815 Shet. Advert. (6 Jan. 1862):
I sou'd owrdraa dee owr d' harnpan wi a kill-tree, an skow dee skult ta learn dee.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. ii. 68:
He pat da kill-trees an' strae apae da killace, an' was tae dry his seed-aits.
(40) Bnff. 1880 J. F. S. Gordon Chrons. Keith 107:
Strae Kilns” were used for drying the corn. A hole was cut in the face of a hillock, and pieces of trees, with drawn straw, were spread thereupon. . . . The corn was put upon the top, and a fire lighted in front.
(41) Sc. 1819 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
Sae then the kiln was in a bleeze again, and they brought us a' three on wi' them to mak us an example as they ca't.
(42) Sc. 1722 R. Wodrow Sufferings II. 206:
The Bishop . . . told him, that his opposing the Clause, excepting the King's Sons and Brothers, had fired the Kiln.
(43) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xlv.:
The Captain's a queer hand, and to speak to him about that or any thing else that crosses the maggot, wad be to set the kiln a-low.
(44) Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 180:
He wouldn't store the kiln long.

2. A whisky-still (Lth. 1960). Used jocularly.Gall. 1904 Crockett Raiderland vii.:
No more does the reek of any unlicensed “kiln,” or whiskey-still, steal up the face of the precipice.

3. (1) The wooden tripod or boss round which a stack of hay or corn is built for ventilation (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Fif. 1855 J. C. Morton Cycl. Agric. II. 724; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc., Fif., Lth., Dmf. 1960). Cf. Logie.Fif. 1832 Fife Herald (9 Aug.):
A Quantity of Fir Wood about 40 years old, fit for Roofing, Joisting, Pit Props, Kilns to stacks, &c.
Sc. 1869 Trans. Highl. Soc. 367:
They have no idea of putting an opening in the centre by means of the old Scots three legged kiln.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 171:
We jist pat up as nairrow ruckies as we cud, an' kils i' the he'rt.
Mry. 1949 Bulletin (20 Sept.):
The men have gone past the window laden with birch poles. They are going to spend the rest of the morning making kilns for the as yet unbuilt stacks.

Combs.: boss-kill, see Boss, n.1; kiln-door, the entrance to a ventilation tripod.Abd. 1959 Huntly Express (9 Jan.) 2:
He . . . slept inside the kiln-doors of stacks by day and roamed the country aimlessly at night.

(2) A chasm in the rocks communicating with the sea by a tunnel, a Gloup, q.v. (I.Sc. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Sh. 657), so called from its resemblance to the construction of a kiln. Found in place-names.

[O.Sc. kilebern, 1552, kill-man, 1667, kill rib, 1674, kilsted, 1492, kill stick, 1674, kyll tre, 1513.]

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"Kill n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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