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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PINGLE, v.1, n.1 Also pingel, pingil, pengle, paingle; and with variant ending ¶pinger. [pɪŋl]

I. v. intr. 1. To strive, contend, compete; to quarrel, fight, disagree (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 382). Phr. to pingle wi' a maister, fig. to contend against overwhelming odds, attempt the impossible (Sc. 1880 Jam.). Vbl.n. pinglin, a thrashing, drubbing (Rxb. 1965).Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 78:
The chiels began to pingle; An' drunken carles coupin doun, Made mugs an' yill-caups jingle.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 350:
They pingle meikle on his side to play.

2. To struggle at a difficult task, to work in a close, laborious, painstaking way, to expend effort and energy to little purpose, to drudge (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 91, 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1878 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc., obsol. Ppl.adjs. pingled, hard put to it, harassed with difficulties, oppressed with care, overcome with exhaustion; pingling, ¶pingerin, of persons: “weak and unable to accomplish much, though still busy” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 126), painstaking, meticulous (Sh., Bnff., Ayr., s.Sc. 1965); of work: close, troublesome, fiddling, tedious, demanding (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Sh., wm. and s.Sc. 1965); vbl.n. pingling, “minute and tedious labour of very little importance” (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 243), “the act of labouring with little success” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 126).Sc. 1740 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 462:
Baith our thickest claes and skin, Are pingl'd to keep us het within.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 51:
Wi' my teeth I gnew the raips in twa, An' wi' sair pingling wan at last awa'.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xxiv.:
[He] did not like ta Sassenagh Duinhéwassel to be pingled wi' mickle speaking, as she was na tat weel.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. ix.:
This is no a pinglin, pains-taking generation.
Ayr. 1834 Galt Liter. Life III. 19:
[Ye] maun just be a taylor and pingle wi' patience at your needle.
Lnk. 1862 D. Wingate Poems 117:
Her pinglin' trade she plied.
Lth. 1882 J. Strathesk Blinkbonny 53:
The miser for his money does pingle.
Fif. 1885 W. Wilson Echoes 172:
To pingle a' nicht at her odds and her ends!
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ iii. xlvii.:
Ye'se no wirk here lang, nar be pingled wi' dule.
Per.2 1928:
I have generally known it used in regard to knitting: “Gey pingerin' wark.”
Sh. 1964 Norden Lichts 9:
A ting o lass shö sat — hit micht a been, Penglin apon a peerie sheddin hap.
Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 93:
An Eh maun pingil wi thi gress
an hunt ut fur ma dennir
snittlin oot thi bittir ruit
that sings Eh am nae sinnir.
wm.Sc. 1991 Carol Galbraith in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 73:
for och owrequick
the jiggin's duin
an Bairnheid's gane
pingelt tae the bane.

3. To trifle, dabble or meddle with, have dealings in or wi(th); to work in a lazy, handless way (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1965). Also used tr. in eclectic usage as in 1851 quot. Ppl.adj. pinglin, ineffectual, feeble, lackadaisical, lacking character or energy (Ayr. 1880 Jam.). Deriv. pingley, id.Sc. 1836 Chambers's Jnl. (5 March) 41:
What a puir pingln' thing yon wean o' Mrs. Peter's is turnin'.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie vi.:
Lassies, dinna sit an' pingle, Stir your shanks, an' steer the ingle.
Sc. 1850 J. Grant Sc. Cavalier xiv.:
They gained baith haugh and holm by pinglin' wi' base merchandise.
Rxb. 1851 Competing Poems on Auld Brig 3:
And much our rhymin' dictionars I pingle For words to suit this vile Italian jingle.
Bwk. 1948 A. Hepple House of Gow i., ii.:
Janet . . . was but a thin slip of a girl — “a whey-faced, pingley piece” her Grand-Aunt Janet called her. . . . There was, he had heard, only a weakling of a grand-nephew left . . . and “a pinglin' bit of a lassie”, the granddaughter.

4. intr. To grow weary, to tire. Prob. a back formation from pingled, s.v. 2.; tr. to make tired, wear out with close, meticulous work.Ayr. 1830 Galt Southennan i.:
It [lace-stitching by candlelight] would pingle out your eyne.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xl. 31:
They sal cleed them twice owre, like the aigle; they sal rin an' they sanna paingle.

II. n. 1. A contest, competition, a “battle”; opposition; a quarrel, contention, altercation; trouble, strife.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 218:
It will be a dirten Pingle. Spoken when two Cowards are going to fight.
Abd. p.1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 176:
Mony a pingel fell atweesh the twa, An' aft young master's back did Kenneth cla'.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 166:
Siclike in Robin Hood debates, Whan twa chiels hae a pingle.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 49:
Wha su'd be Regent for the croun Was like t' have been a pingle.
Ayr. 1816 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871)167:
Now is the pingle, hand to hand.
Sc. 1845 Anon. Muckomachy 51:
It winna stand, Till haill Scotland Be fir'd and fury'd with this pingle.

2. An effort, struggle, a fight against odds (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis); “labour with little progress” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff 126; Fif. 1965). Hence pingly, adj., difficult, troublesome (Fif. 1965), pinglty, a difficulty, plight, dilemma (Cai. 1965).Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 159:
I led him ben but ony Pingle, And beekt him brawly at my Ingle.
Per. 1753 A. Nicol Rural Muse 112:
If ane had tald you sae when ye was single, Your judgment to believ't wou'd had a pingle.
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 27:
At last, wi' great peching an' granin, we gat it up with a pingle.
Sc. 1771 Weekly Mag. (24 Oct.) 127:
Each having taken one heat, Philips [a racehorse], not without a pingle, carried off the money.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 121:
But wi' a pingle, You gar them cour an' haflins fauld Out o'er the ingle.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 156:
Health to your little cheerfu' Sproot; Soun' sleep, an' little pingle.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
He maid throw wi' his sermon after an unco pingle.
Abd. 1832 A. Beattie Poems 138:
Sae light they, but wi' eery pingle, Upon the loan a bleising ingle.
Sc. 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah x. 14:
An' folk sal win by wi' a pingle.
Bnff., Ayr. 1912 Scotsman (2 Jan.):
It's a pingle fae mornin' till nicht, and little for't.
Cai. 1921 T.S.D.C.:
He's clean in a pinglty ower't.

3. A turn, try, “go”, a “swig” at a bottle. Nonce.Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle iii. ii.:
I suppose ye think you could keep the house yoursel' — that maybe ye might get an odd pingle at the [whisky] bottle that way.

[O.Sc. pingill, to contend, strive, 1500, to trouble, worry, 1513, pingill, trouble, 1570. Cf. Sw. dial. pyngla, to work in a trifling way, Du. dial. pingelen, to haggle, chaffer; also to do fine needlework, prob. orig. cognate with Ping, q.v., above, sc. to sew in a laborious or ineffective manner.]

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"Pingle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Dec 2022 <>



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