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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PEARL, n.1 Also perl-, purl-; paerl; ¶peeral (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St. Matthew vii. 6). Sc. forms and usages:

1. As in Eng. Dim. pearlie, id. (Ags. 1890 A. Lowson J. Guidfollow 52); deriv. pearlin, id., in pl. pearls, a string of pearls. Also fig. a pearl-shaped drop, a dew-drop. See also Pearlin.Ags. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 83:
It's a' to buy ye pearlins bright, An'to busk ye like a leddy.
Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) III. 333:
Nae pearlins amang ma Nelly's hair, curlin and clusterin roun' her lauchin cheeks.
Ayr. 1847 Ballads (Paterson) II. 73:
There's pearlings in this other han' A stately tow'r to big.
Peb. a.1859 R. Ford Vagabond Songs (1904) 126:
A necklace he gied her, wi' pearlins beset.
Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 5:
Frae your eyes in glitterin' pearlin's speak.
Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 20:
An' ye shall sit till the dews o' morn Pits pearlins on the kale!

Sc. combs.: (1) pearl fly, the larva of the Hemerobiidae (Bwk. 1847 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club II. 226); (2) pearl grass, the button grass, Avena elatior. Also in simple form pearl, id. (see quot.). Appar. not to be confused with pirl-grass s.v. Pirl, q.v.; (3) pearl turbot, the brill, Rhombus levis (e.Sc. 1903 G. Sim Fauna “Dee” 245). Also pearl, id. (Sc. 1935 Fishery Board Gl.). Also in Eng. dial. Phs. mainly from the fish's glistening colour, but the form pearl is also found as a variant of brill.(2) Uls. 1886 B. and H. 224:
It [Avena elatior] is known in Co. Antrim as Pearl; the knobs at the base of the stem are the pearls. I have been informed that these “pearls” are of great value as a cure for inflamed eyes.

2. An opaque membrane which grows over the ball of the eye causing blindness and giving the eye a milky, pearl-like appearance, a cataract (Uls. 1965). Now only dial. in Eng. Cf. Peeble, n.Sc. 1723 Caled. Mercury (17 June):
The famous Eye-water, which cures all the Diseases of the Eyes, such as Pins and Webs, Mists, Pearls, and carries off all Inflammations and Pains in the Eyes.
Sc. 1773 Ib. (30 Jan.):
Cataracts, cured by extracting the chrystal, commonly called pearl, out of his right eye.
Sh. 1899 Shetland News (15 July):
Doo laekly heard 'at it turn'd till a paerl apo' mam's e'e.

3. A piece of coal of the smallest size next to dross (wm.Sc. 1965). Cf. Pea, n., 4.Sc. 1901 Scotsman (4 Oct.):
[Of small coal] After being washed, the pearls are drained and elevated by conveyors to a hopper.
Lnl. 1925 H. M. Cadell Rocks w.Lth. 353:
The mixed coal from the pit is now cleaned, washed, separated out and classified into round coal, “nuts” of various sizes, “pearls” and “duff” or “gum,” to render it available for different purposes.

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"Pearl n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Apr 2024 <>



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