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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

RACKLE, n., v. Also rakel, racle; ¶rattle (Ags. 1742 Arbirlot Kirk Sess. Rec. Cashbook).

I. n. 1. A chain (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Comb. †rackleban, fig., a fetter. Deriv. rackler, a nickname for a land-surveyor because of his use of a chain (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Now only arch.Bnff. 1726 W. Cramond Ch. Grange 89:
Through ane unaccountable tolling of the bell upon the occasion of burialls and otherwise by persons nowise concerned the tows and rackle are frequently broken.
Ags. 1757 Arbirlot Kirk Sess. Rec. Cashbook (23 Feb.):
To James Smith for a Lock to the Church Door and a Rackle to the Bell Tow £1.
Abd. 1794 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 183:
Murdered ghaists roun' murd'rers clinket Their iron rackles.
Ags. 1879 A. L. Fenton Forfar Poets 113:
But I'll be a Provost an' sit i' the chair, Wi' the robe an' the rackle, an' Bailie nae mair.
Bnff. 1893 G. G. Green Kidnappers xix.:
His wife, he was certain, was his Satanic majesty's special messenger sent to buffet him; or, as he himself used to put it — “the rackleban' o' the deevil's minister.”
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 84:
A silver rakel belt for a girdle.

2. Specif. a short fine chain attached to the stem of a pipe which holds a pin for clearing out the pipe and also the lid (‡Bnff., Abd. 1967).Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 9:
He hid aye the rackle an' the pin at it — that wis the chyne 'at heeld the lid, and the pin wis to redd the pipe wi'.

3. The rattling, jingling noise made by a chain (Mry., Ags. 1967).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 138:
I hard the rackle o' the dog's collar.

II. v. 1. To fasten up with a chain.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 138:
Rackle the dog t' the aixtree o' the cairt.

2. To clank or rattle like a chain. Vbl.n. racklin (Gregor).Ib.:
He hid a great goud chyne an' a blaznick o' a goud seal racklin 'at's watch.

3. To shake violently (Mry. 1967).Gregor:
A cam doon wee a dousht an' a pardoos, an' sair did it rackle up ma banes.

4. To take the twist out of ropes when feeding them to one who is winding them up (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.). Poss. a different word.

[Orig. doubtful. O.Sc. racle, to rattle, 1507, reckle, a chain, c.1603; Mid.Eng. rakyl, id. Phs. an alteration on analogy with -le nouns, of obs. or n. dial. Eng. rackan, reckon, O.E. racente, O.N. rekendi, a chain. There has prob. also been influence from rattle both in form and sense.]

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"Rackle n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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