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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHUIL, n., v. Also shuile (Slg. 1925 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 262), shule, schuil (Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 231), schule, shool(l), shoul, showl (erron. show (Sc. 1702 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 307)), sho'el (Abd. 1832 J. Pratt Jamie Fleeman (1912) 61), shil(l) (Lnk. 1964 Weekly Scotsman (15 Oct.) 2); sh(e)u(l)l, sh(j)ül(l), shöl(l), chiefly I.Sc.; sheil(l), sheel(t), sheal, shiel(d), mainly n.Sc.; shel-. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. shovel. For other forms see Shuffle, n., v.1 [I., m. and s.Sc. ʃøl, ʃyl, ʃɪl; n.Sc. ʃil]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a shovel of wood or metal (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D., sheel; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Hence shulefu, shool-, a shovelful (Ork., em.Sc.(a) 1970). Dim. showlie, a nickname for a stoker or fireman (Edb. 1898 J. Baillie Walter Crighton 285). Heriot's Hospital Slang. Adj. shuilie, sheullie, shelly, like a shovel, specif. of the feet: flat and splayed out and moving with a kind of shuffle (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 154; Ayr. 1970). Hence shulie-fittit (Rnf. 1837 Crawfurd MSS. XI. 326).Sc. 1705 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 404:
For 2 shools . . . 19s.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 71:
There is little for the rake after the shool [said of a greedy grasping person].
Clc. 1745 J. Crawford Mem. Alloa (1874) 177:
For two speads and one shule.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Ep. J. Lapraik xi.:
Ye'd better taen up spades and shools.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 236:
The barn, byer sheill, cart or slede.
ne.Sc. c.1808 G. Greig Folk-Song (1909) vii. 1:
The hielan' and the lowlan' chiels Cut doon the knowes wi' spads and sheels.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxiii.:
And whare is your honours gaun the day wi' a' your picks and shules?
Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Confessional 194:
Ae shulefu frae Drybrouch he broucht.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 14:
A sheul fu' o' gutter an' gingle steens.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders xv.:
We made a grave for Richard Maxwell, and I went for spades and shools.
Arg. 1910 N. Munro Fancy Farm xxv.:
The meare has shelly feet that's ill to shoe.
m.Sc. 1927 Scots Mag. (July) 241:
Awa' and get a school fu' o' coals.
Bnff. 1961 Scotsman (21 Sept.):
Wooden “shiels” to turn the grain so that the germination would be uniform.
Abd. 1993:
Nooadays ye dinna sheel wi a sheel bit jist wi a shuffel.

Combs.: (1) shuil-bane, the shoulder-blade of a human being or animal, from its shape (I.Sc. 1970); (2) shiel-blade, the flat wooden blade of a kind of grain shovel used by millers and distillery workers (Bnff. 1970); (3) shuil-fit, one who has flat shuffling feet (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Slg., Ayr. 1970). Hence adj. shuil-feeted (Ork. 1970). See adj. above; (4) shool-plough, a plough used for weeding, a kind of shim plough (Sc. 1812 J. Sinclair Syst. Husb. Scot. I. 96); (5) shule-staff, the shaft and handle of a shovel, hence in quot. a crutch, from the snnilarity in shape or the adoption of the former to serve the same purpose.(1) Sh. 1897 Shetland News (11 Sept.):
I wiss ta da Loard doo manna be gotten dy shöl bane knappit.
Ork. 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 6:
Digging her “bit yaird” with the sheull banes of an ox.
(2) Bnff. 1952 Banffshire Jnl. (13 May):
Kiln Shiel Blades, Mill Picks.
(4) e.Lth. 1808 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 11:
To a shool plow with paint.
(5) Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 230:
You will be cripple, and gang on twa shule-staffs.

2. A hoe (Gall. 1947).

3. A kind of peat-cutter or spade with a long narrow blade (Cai. 1939); a peat cut with this type of spade.Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
The peats were of various kinds. In one peat stack might be seen “tuskars,” “shiels,” “evendoons.”
Cai. 1970 Gailey and Fenton Spade 180:
The ‘shield' has a long rectangular blade of wood shod with iron and a wing 4 to 5 ins. long with no upwards or downwards rake.

4. An ear-mark on a sheep, described as “a slit by which the ear is separated into two lobes” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.) or “a crescent-shaped bite” (Sh. 1970). It is uncertain whether this is orig. the same word, although assimilated in sound to Shuil. See Sholmark and II. 5.Sh. 1897 Shetland News (31 July):
Pittin a shüll apo da right lug.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 176:
Bits, crooks, fidders, and shöls indicating different cuts in the ear.

5. (1) The act of shovelling (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne. (sheel) and m.Sc. 1970); a shovelful.Rnf. 1763 Session Papers, Porterfield v. Neilson (4 Aug.) 21:
Perhaps some accidental shouls at the place where the two parcels had been formerly contiguous.
Abd. 1965:
We had tae gie the close a sheel after aa the rain and dubs.

†(2) In marbles: a shot fired after the hand had been thrust forward in order unfairly to increase its speed and come nearer the target (Ayr. 1953 Ayrshire Post (28 Aug.), shully). This disqualified the player who had to retake his shot. Phr. nae shuillie, the call in the game which prohibits one's opponent from doing this (Ayr. 1900). See II. 6.

6. A shuffling gait (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1970); one who shuffles (Rxb. 1970). Cf. 1. and Combs. but the usage may be due rather to confusion between shuffle and shovel, Shuil . Cf. also II. 7.

II. v. 1. tr. and intr. To shovel, to work or clean out with a shovel (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. shuilin.Cai. 1700 J. E. Donaldson Cai. in 18th Cent. (1938) 126–7:
The occurrence in this document of phrases like “mucking the byres” and “shilling the gutters.”
Sc. 1727 Six Saints (Fleming 1901) I. 287:
The swearing ministers have heartily and without either boots, thumbikins or fire-matches, or any hazard to the neck by the bloody rope, shooled on the grave-moulds.
Rnf. 1763 Session Papers, Porterfield v. Neilson (4 Aug.) 21:
The good barley at the foot of the loft being turned lower, and the bad shouled next it; and the good at the head of the loft shouled close to the bad, but not over it.
Abd. 1777 R. Forbes Ulysses 37:
I've turn'd out a' the stanes Stood i' the road; the gutter's sheel'd.
Abd. 1811 G. Keith Agric. Abd. 415:
He . . . generally requires two stamps and two shealings, as he terms it, to fill up his trench. The first stamp, or spit . . . is thrown into the open trench; then with a shovel or spade, he throws the loose earth above that spit.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxv.:
Ye maun get in and take the shule a bit, and shule out the loose earth.
Sc. c.1828 Leesome Brand in Child Ballads No. 15 B. x.:
It was nae wonder his heart was sair, When he shooled the mools on her yellow hair.
Ags. 1846 G. Macfarlane Rhymes 64:
An' witless row, an' dance, an' shool Amang the snaw.
Mry. 1908 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 88:
Sheelin' a road up tae the hoosie.
Sh. 1962 New Shetlander No. 60. 17:
Whin dey're kyerried an borrowed an spread an shölled An delled da leys an harrowed da möld.

2. To hoe, scrape weeds off the surface of the soil (Gall. 1947).

3. To cut the top turf of a peat-bank with a shiel (Cai., Rs., Inv. 1970). See I. 3. Hence sheeled peat, a peat cut horizontally (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.).

4. Fig. To empty out or scoop as with a shovel, to “clean out,” take away one's store of anything (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Slg., Lth., Rxb. 1970). To be shuild, to be deprived of all one's marbles in play (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Cf. Sheel, v., 5. Also in dim. form†shulock, “to sweep the stakes in a game” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), hence shulocker, one who does this (Id.). Comb. shool-the-board, -buird, sheel-, a variety of the game of draughts in which the winner is the player who gets his men first off the board by putting them in the way of his opponent's capture (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 271; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., ne.Sc., Per. 1970).s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws v.:
Shool them out hand-habble. When cattle's that disjaskit-looking, you may lay a plack it's the blackleg has them.

5. To make an ear-mark on a sheep as in I. 4. above.Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 591:
Da rycht lugg shuild wi a hol.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (18 Dec.):
The right lug shulled and a rift before.

6. In marbles: to jerk the hand forward with a scooping shovelling movement in firing the marble (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. XIII. 37). Also in dim. form shuillie (Ayr. 1970). See I. 5. (2).Ayr. 1900:
In playing marbles, one boy could call “nae shuillie”, meaning that his opponent in playing had to keep his knuckle on the ground and not jerk his hand forward to give his marble increased force and speed. “To shuillie” was to give a marble this force by jerking the hand forward.

7. tr. and intr. “To cause a flat body to move along the ground as a shovel is moved”, to shuffle (the feet), to walk in a scuffling flat-footed manner (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags., Rxb. 1970); to traverse with a shuffling gait (Watson); fig. to progress in a kind of a way, to scrape along.Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond B. Bowden (1922) 110:
We baith gaed skloiter ower a barra fu' o' ban-boxes, an' gaed shulin alang the platform for aucht or ten yairds.
s.Sc. 1898 E. Hamilton Mawkin ix.:
1 doubtna Auchenrivock'll manage to schule along fine wanting me.

[O.Sc. schule, a shovel, a.1400, schuil, to shovel, 1470, schule the burd, 1598, Mid.Eng. schole, with lengthened vowel and vocalisation of -v-, from O.E. scofl, id. For forms in which the consonant is retained, see Shuffle, n., v.1]

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



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