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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MARL, v., n.2 Also marle; maarel; myarl (Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Cf. Mirl.

I. v. To mottle or streak, to cause to become variegated in colour (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111). Chiefly in ppl.adj. marled, marl(e)t, variegated, mottled, veined in colour, marbled (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; n.Sc., Wgt. 1962); of cloth: woven with two colours of yarn. Gen.Sc. Comb. marled salmon, ? the rainbow trout, Salmo irideus.Sc. 1716 M. Martin W. Islands 58:
There be also several rivers here, which afford salmon: one sort of them is very singular, that is called Marled Salmon, or as the natives call it, Ieskdruimin, being lesser than the ordinary salmon, and full of strong large scales: no bait can allure it, and a shadow frights it away, being the wildest of fishes: it leaps high above water, and delights to be in the surface of it.
Ayr. 1787 Burns To the Guidwife v.:
The marl'd plaid ye kindly spare By me should gratefully be ware.
Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton III. 101:
It's no Tay saumon neither — it's as far north as Fochabers, by the marled face o't.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Marled stockings, those made of mixed colours, twisted together before the stockings are woven or knitted.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 75:
Till wrinkles mark's, an' our hair marle.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) 248:
Bring me likewise my best cloak . . . the grey marled one, lined with green flannel.
Sc. 1842 Whistle-Binkie (1890) II. 92:
Just marled mittens wrought for me.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie i.:
To see the sky assume that gray marled colour, which . . . boded a fresh storm brewing in the lift.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Tales 91:
Da sky is saftly marled ower, A sign o' wadder fair.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xlv.:
The great marled eggs o' the whaup.
Sh. 1951 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 84:
The speckled flekkit or maarelt.
Dmf. 1957:
Your shins are said to be “aa marlt” when they are “tartan” from sitting too near the fire.

II. n. 1. A mottle, an indefinite mark, a mottled or veined pattern. Gen.Sc. Combs. marle loaf, a loaf containing flour, rye, ginger, carraway, cloves, etc. mixed to give a mottled colouring in the dough; marle-paper, paper with a mottled or variegated finish.Lth. 1722 D. Robertson S. Leith Rec. (1925) 40:
A Translation of the Golden Charter stitched in Marle paper.
Sc. 1736 Mrs McLintock Receipts 5:
To make a Marle Loaf.
Ayr. 1903 E.D.D.:
Marls in the skin when cold.
Abd.30 1961:
“Div ye like the colour o this worsit?” “Ay, that's a richt bonny marl.”

Deriv. marlie, -y, mottled or variegated in pattern, marbled (n.Sc., Uls. 1962).Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 13:
'Twas nouther marly, white nor grey, Piebald, nor broun, nor black, nor bay.
Per. 1889 T. Edwards Strathearn Lyrics 115:
Aneath that plain tippet o' marly grey.
Kcb. 1899 Crockett Anna Mark xx.:
Her weather-beaten complexion, netted and marly like the reticulations on a bladder.
Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 14:
Her marlie plaid was stained wi' bluid That from the 'oond cam oozin' red.

2. In pl.: measles (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Cf. Mirl.

[O.Sc. marlit, variegated, chequered, 1546, ad. O.Fr. merellé, chequered, mottled, from O.Fr. merel, a counter, a kind of game of chequers, or morris, now applied to hopscotch. See Merl, Mirl.]

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"Marl v., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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