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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SCRAFFLE, v., n. Also scravel, scravvle, skra(a)vl(e) (Sh., Ork.). [skrɑfl, skrɑvl]

I. v. 1. To scramble, to claw about with the hands in groping for something on the ground, or in climbing a rough rocky place or the like (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 279; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., skravl; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; I.Sc., Cai. 1969). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence scraffler, a scrambler.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 422:
When any one . . . flings loose coin among the mob, the rabble is then said to scraffle or scrammle for it.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong R. Rankine at the Exhibition 43:
Robbie scraffled ablow the table for his hat an' stick.
Kcb. a.1902 Gallovidian No. 59. 109:
When sailors baul' nae whistlin' storms shall face. For grabbin' scrafflers scrieve a clauch't a' chase.
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. v. 173:
He scravelled roond intae a cunyie, whaur he could sit and see a' that was gaan on.

2. To rustle, make a crackling scraping sound (Sh. 1904 E.D.D., 1908 Jak. (1928)); to write in a scrawling scraping manner (Sh. 1969).Jak.:
He guid skravlin ower de paper.

3. To work hard with little result, to toil or be energetic to small purpose, to struggle along. Also in n.Eng. dial.Dmf. 1831 Carlyle Early Life (Froude 1882) II. 211:
I daily make the attempt to work and keep scraffling and feltering.
Dmf. 1832 Carlyle Reminisc. (1881) I. 36:
They had to scramble, scraffle, for their very clothes and food.

II. n. 1. A scramble, struggle (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a scuffle, skirmish.Ayr. 1830 C. Lockhart Poems 155:
But we followed in the rear, And commenced a bloody scraffle.

2. A small number of scattered objects; a small scattered quantity of fish in a drift-net (Cai. 1904 E.D.D., scravvle, Cai. 1969).

[Of somewhat mixed orig., prob. chiefly imit., based on Eng. scrabble, Du. schrabbelen, to scratch or paw the ground; in I.Sc. prob. from the cogn. Scand. form, as in Norw. dial. skravla, to scrape together, Sw. skrafla, to make a rustling, crackling noise.]

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"Scraffle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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