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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

RICKLE, n.1, v.1 Also rickel, rikkle; ruckle; reckl-. [′rɪkəl, ′rʌkəl; Cai. + ′rʌxl]

I. n. 1. A loose, carelessly thrown together pile or collection of objects, as stones or sticks (G all. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 406; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (15 Dec.) 10). Gen.Sc. Also fig.Slg. 1759 Session Papers, Petition J. Chalmers (18 Dec.) 9:
What the Deponent means by a Stone dike, was a Rickle of Stones thrown in to stop People's Passage.
Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 171:
They're a' but a rickle of sticks.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary ix.:
A rickle o' useless boxes and trunks.
Ayr. 1836 Galt Rich Man (1925) 23:
We got all our rickle of things put on board.
Abd. 1868 P.S.A.S. VI. 167:
There is a rickle of loose stones around the shore of the island.
Edb. 1870 J. Lauder Warblings 38:
And the spoutfish hidlin's skulk Underneath each sandy ruckle.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin xix.:
A great ragged rickle of peats and stones.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters x.:
Such a rickle of furniture I never saw!
Kcd. 1933 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 336:
A rickle of stone-grey sticks, the bones of a man of antique time.
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 15:
There wes a dunt, a shuggle, an a rickle o flames teirin out o the rocket's dowp, an up intae the hivvens it gaed ...

2. A tumbledown, dilapidated structure: (1) applied to an old or mean building.Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XX. 52:
The poor tenant patches up a miserable rickle, with a damp earthen floor, more like a humble sheep-cote, than therural habitation of the generous farmer.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I ii.:
Cambuskenneth Lodge burning, I'se warrant. My moan is soon made for the auld black ruckle.
s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 323:
See naething but that rickle o' a house.
Sc. 1844 J. W. Carlyle New Letters (1903) I. 137:
Speke Hall . . . the queerest-looking old rickle of boards and plaster.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lochinvar i.:
An auld disjaskit rickle o' stanes like the Hoose o' Grenoch.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxv.:
An auld done rickle o' a place!
e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 132:
Ere this year is ae mune aulder Dunbar's ruckle laigh sall be.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
What a rickle o' a dike.
ne.Sc. 1991 Alastair Mackie in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 69:
Aathing conters ye. Weety weather,
the oot lichts, the auld rickle o a hoose
yarkit by a blouter o wind
Arg. 1992:
There wiz only an auld rickle o stone left ...
Sc. 1994 Herald 6 Nov 5:
... but we are now, says Tranter, running out of castles which can be restored. "Some of the remaining castles are not really more than a rickle of staines," he said.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 67:
' ... Fower thoosan pund,' he finished hoarsely, pouring himself a fresh brandy, 'for a lump o rock, a flock o geese and a rickle o stanes that ye wouldna keep pigs in.'

(2) any ramshackle or disintegrating article. Gen.(exc. sm.)Sc. Also attrib. = ramshackle, rickety.Lnk. 1862 D. Wingate Poems 92:
Thou kicks thy rickle o' a cart Wi' angry heels.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxviii.:
They've gotten a secont-han rickle o' a piano.
Rxb. 1875 N. Elliott N. Macpherson 107:
I would advise ye tae hae the auld ruckle o' a lock weel creeshed.
e.Lth. 1896 J. Lumsden Battles 22:
Hauling puir cadger muggers' ruckles.
Abd. 1928 Abd. Book-Lover VI. 13:
His wee ruckle tent aften stan's near Simeil.
Abd. 1957 Bon-Accord (18 April) 8:
His latest deal in cars — a rael 1930 rickle o' aul' iron.
wm.Sc. 1984 Liz Lochhead Dreaming Frankenstein 116:
We stuff the tub, jam money in the slot,
sit back on rickle chairs not

(3) an emaciated, broken-down person or animal, esp. in phr. a rickle o banes (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 142:
A rickle o' banes row'd up in a runkly skin.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gatlov. Encycl. 46:
The animal being always so lean, a perfect rickle o' banes.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunbtane Trad. 56:
Isna yer ghaist like a rickle o' banes?
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 31:
What might hae ance Been a stout buirdly chiel — now a rickle o' banes.
Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 76:
Naething but an auld skinny ruckle o' banes.
Uls. 1899 S. MacManus Chimney Corners 228:
He began to consider how he could sell his rickle of a pony to advantage.
Lnk. 1926 W. Queen We're A' Coortin 26:
Auld skinny-ma-link, ruckle-o'-banes.
Sh. 1951 New Shetlander No. 29. 17:
Shö's joost a rikkle a banes, I toucht a skaar a gruel micht mak her mair maetly fur dee.
Gsw. 1992 Jeff Torrington Swing Hammer Swing! (1993) 142:
And without so much as a departing retort, some face-saving insult, the duffel-coated rickle of banes slunk off.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 37:
Bit ye'll agree the grave's a cauld, cauld place, wi naethin there bit a rickle o banes an a fyew thin memories.

3. A collection of buildings which look as though they had been thrown carelessly together, a huddle (I.Sc., Abd. 1968).Sc. 1820 Scott Monastery xiii.:
Burning a rickle of houses beyond Fowberry.
Mry. 1865 W. Tester Poems 147:
Yer toon! — a roosty, rotten rickle.
Kcd. 1932 L. G. Gibbon Sunset Song 37:
It was no more than a butt and a ben, with a rickle of sheds behind it.
Sc. 1938 M. Innes Lament for Maker i. viii.:
Kildoon being but a rickle of houses twothree miles over the moor.

4. A wall built of stones without mortar, a dry-stone wall; a layer of small stones placed on top offlag-stones for a coping to such a wall (Ork., Bnff., Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1968). Also attrib.; “a low stone fence built before a drain” (Abd. 1825 Jam.).Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 22:
Stone walls or dykes. . . . Their height, for arable land, is commonly from three to four feet, besides cape and rickle: the cape is a course of flags, and the rickle a course of small stones placed shortly upon the flags: both together make a foot in height.
Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 342:
Our inclosures are little better than rickle dykes, built of stones, gathered from the land, without any mortar.
Ork. 1797 Session Papers, Balfour v. Kirkwall T.C. (21 Nov.) 17:
A dike or rickle of stones about three feet high.
n.Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Rickle-dike. A wall built firmly at the bottom, but having the top only the thickness of the single stones, loosely piled the one above the other.
Sc. 1831 J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) II. 77:
Galloway, or rickle dykes, are much esteemed in Dumbartonshire and other Highland districts. This fence is constructed of stones loosely piled up to the height of four or five feet, every tier being less in size, and at the top the stones are wide apart.
Kcb. 1881 Session Cases (1880–1) 857:
The boundary in my first recollection was a wee bit ruckle dyke.
Per.4 1950:
I saw a whitruck in alow that auld rickle dyke.

5. A small temporary stack of grain or seed-hay (Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 181; w. and sm.Sc. 1968).Ayr. a.1796 Burns 3rd Ep. to J. Lapraik ii.:
May Boreas never thresh your rigs, Nor kick your rickles aff their legs.
Sc. 1890 H. Stephens Bk. Farm V. 86:
A “rickle”, “cole”, or “hooack” may contain from 6 to 8 or more stooks, according to the size of the stooks and length of the crop. The centre ofthe “rickle” is composed of 4 or 6 sheaves, all set up together, with the bottoms slightly out and the heads close together.
Gall. 1930:
Lyin' sleepin' on a rickle o' corn.

6. A small stack or pile of peats or turves built loosely so that the air can circulate through to dry them (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; n.Sc., Per., Peb., Ayr. 1968). Also in n.Eng. dial.Kcd. 1700 Black Bk. Kcd. (1843) 130:
He hid the said web amongst a rickle of truffs.
Abd. 1735 J. Arbuthnot Bch. Farmers (1811) 62:
It would not be amiss to put the turf into rickles, or small heaps.
Sc. 1832 Chambers's Jnl. (June) 151:
The peats are collected and built into windraws and rickles — small heaps, that is, through which the wind sifts, and gives them that degree of dryness that they are fit for burning.
Peb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 53:
The person who builds up the compressed peat in the small stacks or rickles.
Uls. 1892 Ballymena Obs.:
Peats put to dry with a foundation on their ends, and others built on their sides on top of the foundation. A rickle differs from a clamp in being long and narrow instead of circular.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 8:
To set the peats in rickles on a bonnie simmer's day.
Uls. 1953 Traynor:
To build a rickle; this is done by laying down flat two long lines of turf four ins. apart; cross over these to a height of two or three feet. A dozen or so footins (of eight or ten peats each) go into a rickle.

7. Derivs.: (1) ricklie, rickly, reckly, ruckly, adj., badly constructed, ramshackle, tottering, rickety (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc.; dilapidated (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.); (2) rickelty, n., a rickety, badly constructed object.(1) Sc. 1715 in Ellis Orig. Lett. (Ser. 1) III. 361:
The Highlanders will be left to make the best of their way to their own reckly cells in the Braes of Athol.
Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 380:
The stane-wa's about my farm are rather rickly.
Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 23:
There's little doot awa I'd ran, Ca'd owre some kail-wife's rickly staun.
w.Sc. 1880 Jam.:
That wa's gae rickly.
Sc. 1914 R. B. Cunninghame-Graham Sc. Stories 62:
Ye can see the kist [coffin]. . . . I min, when they were jist auld sort o' ruckly boxes.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 21:
Ower a rickly brig an' stile.
(2) Sc. 1823 Blackwood's Mag. (May) 611:
Yon auld clattering ricklety of a gig.

II. v. 1. To pile together loosely, to construct in a rough insecure way (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., ne.Sc., m.Lth., Rxb. 1968). Also in n.Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. rickled, -t, loosely and insecurely built. Deriv. rickler, an inefficient, careless builder of stone-work (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 406).Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 160:
Loose stones rickled together.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 191:
A rickl'd rood ne'er left his han' His dykes for centries will stan'.
Bnff. 1902 J. Grant Agric. Bnff. 15:
The stones . . . were rickled on to the neighbouring uncultivated strips.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 15:
Jeems and his “loons” set to work “an, gat a fow hooses rickled th'gidder”, with the help of masons and vrichts.
Abd. 1918 W. Mutch Hev ye a Spunk 9:
[I] sklattert doon the rickelt chaumer stair.

2. Specif.: to construct (a dry-stone wall), freq. with up (Fif. 1968). Ppl.adj. rickled, built without mortar. Deriv. rickler, a builder of dry-stone walls (Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.). Ppl.adj. rickled, built without mortar.e.Lth. 1713 Country-Man's Rudiments 23:
To rickle up a dry Stone-dike round any Piece of Ground so designed.
Edb. 1767 Session Papers, Dick v. Tennent Proof 8:
The old dike which the deponent sometimes saw taken down for the purpose of passing, and sometimes rickled up again by Rankeilor.
Sc. 1789 Prize Essays Highl. Soc. 91:
Any repairs it may require will only be on that part of it which is rickled.

3. To build grain into small temporary ricks in the field (Sc. 1825 Jam.; w. and sm. Sc. 1968). Vbl.n. rickling. Deriv. rickler, a cage or frame for making small temporary ricks of hay (Dmf. 1968).Ayr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VI. 104:
There is a method of preserving corn, peculiar to this part of the country, called Rickling, thus performed: After the corn has stood some days in uncovered half-stooks, from 40 to 60 sheaves are gathered together, and put up into a small stack, . . . and covered with a large sheaf, as a hood, tied down with two small straw ropes.
Ayr. 1946 Observer (22 Sept.):
To rickle the corn is to gather together 10 or 12 sheaves into one large stook, heads well inwards, and lay on the top a single sheaf on its side splayed out circularly.

4. To stack peats in loosely formed piles to allow air to circulate and dry them (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; n.Sc., Per., Peb., Ayr., Wgt. 1968). Vbl.n. rickling, a stack of this kind; the process of stacking.Sc. 1781 Caled. Mercury (4 Aug.):
Some malicious person or persons, under the screen of night, set fire to no fewer than 27 ricklings of peats, belonging to a poor farmer.
Per. 1944 D. M. Forrester Logiealmond 170:
In another week or two they [peats] were “rickled”. Several “fittings” were set together in a row and peats three or four deep were piled loosely on top so as to let the drying wind go through them.
Wgt. 1963:
Rickling was rare; the peat was usually taken home and stacked when the fittins were dry.

[O.Sc. rickill, loose pile, 15665- , to pile loosely, 1595, prob. of Scand. orig. Cf. Norw. dial. røykla, to set up in small heaps, rygla, small loose heap of objects, Sw. dial. rögel, Dan. dial. røgel, heap of peats. all derivs. of O.N. hraukr, small pile (of peats). ]

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"Rickle n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



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