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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.

SKIRLIE, n. Also skirly. A dish of oatmeal mixed with chopped onions and fried in suet or fat in a pan (Mry. 1911; ne.Sc. 1951 Sunday Post (5 Aug.)). Gen.Sc.; also a kind of rissole with sim. ingredients sold by bakers to be heated up for a meal (Fif. 1970).Mry. 1914 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 26:
Crackens, bayheads, and skirlie are formed of fish livers and oatmeal cooked together.
Abd. 1948 Huntly Express (14 May):
Potties for rinnin' doon the suet for skirlie.
Arg. 1966 Hist. Ford (S.W.R.I.) 37:
Skirlie made from oatmeal, onions and dripping.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 33:
The Blair family were finishing their sup one April evening when John asked his sister casually as he ladled a second helping of skirlie into his bowl.
Abd. 1994 David Toulmin in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 74:
So ye got cabbage brose, kale brose, neep brose, melk brose and ordinar brose; melk broth and barley broth, leek soup, chappit tatties and skirlie or sise; ...
Hebr. 1995 Angus Duncan Hebridean Island: Memories of Scarp 93:
A favourite substitute for mealy pudding was made in a small pan in which dripping was melted, with oatmeal added. This concoction, which was known to us by the picturesque English name, 'scream pudding', had to be stirred all the time it was cooking, to prevent it from singeing. The Scots name for it is 'skirlie'.
Rs. 1996 Alec John Williamson in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 55:
It was a hard life, but we had good times. Out on the road we'd eat a lot of oatmeal, porridge, brose, skirly - that's oatmeal and onions, fried. You leave the onions till they're golden brown and then you put your oatmeal in, it's like a mealie pudding, a white pudding.

[Shortened dim. form of skirl-in-the-pan s.v. Skirl, v., 8.]

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



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