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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TALE, n. Also tail(e); teel (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 32, 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. v. 173; Sh. 1930 Manson's Almanac 186, 1951 Sh. Folk Book II. 66, Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 113). Sc. forms and usages. [tel; Sh., Ork. + til. See P.L.D. § 161.1.]

1. As in Eng. Sc. combs. and phrs.: (1) by one's tale, according to one's own story, in one's own manner of narration (I.Sc., Kcb. 1972). Cf. (5); (2) tale-pyet, -piet, -pat, (i) a tell-tale, tale-bearer, one who divulges secrets (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 406; Per., Fif., Lth., s.Sc. 1972). Also in n.Eng. dial. See Pyot; (ii) in form tale-pie, a magpie, as noted for its chattering (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 269); (iii) a sea-taboo name for a compass (Sh. 1881 Williamson MSS.). See also Tell, v., 4. (2) (vii); (3) talesman, a story-teller, the authority or source for a story or statement, freq. in phr. to gie baith tale and talesman said when one's veracity is doubted (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1972). Also in n.Eng. dial.: (4) true tale!, an exclamation of ironic agreement, sc. ‘I don't believe you' (Sh. 1952 Robertson and Graham Sh. Grammar 19, Sh. 1972); (5) with one's tale, according to one's own account, as one would have others believe, = Eng. to hear (him etc.) speak (Abd., Ags., Fif., Wgt. 1972). Cf. (1).(1) Ork. 1907 Old-Lore Misc. I. ii. 63:
Whar tinks du dud dey get 'im — anunder the bed — an' de ald wife api da tap o'm, sleepan bae her tale.
Sh. 1927 Shetland News (23 April):
I began ta pit me touchts in verse, be my tale.
(2) (i) Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary iv.:
I am no talepyet; but there are mair een in the world than mine.
Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 234:
When tale-pyet Jamie Rae We dookit roarin' at the pump.
Lth. 1878 M. Oliphant Primrose Path xxi:
I was never a tale-pyet, . . . nobody ever laid tittle-tattle to my door.
Kcb. 1911 Crockett Smugglers xxi.:
The tongues of “tale-pyets,” or tellers of tales, were scraped urgently with a piece of broken slate, and thereafter washed.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Tale-pyet, tale-pyet, sits on the midden, Cleans my shoes, an' diz my biddin'.
e.Lth. 1924 I. Adair Glowerower 73:
They'd just be ca'ed tale-pats.
(3) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 36:
“Who tauld sick news to you?” “Baith tale an' tales-man I to you shall tell.”
(5) Sc. 1808 Jam.:
He's gaun to tak a big farm, wi' his tale. Puir silly tawpie, she's gaun to get a gryte laird, wi' her tale.

2. A reckoning, calculation; a calculation of what money is due to one. Phr. to gang ower the tale, to go beyond all bounds, to overstep the hmit or due amount of moderation.Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 106:
Pay the warkmen a' their tailes.
Kcd. 1900 W. Gairdner Glengoyne II. iii.:
A bit puir creater o' a sax-horse fairmer doon i' the Howe gaed ower the tale wi' his fairmin.

[O.Sc. tale, reckoning, a.1400.]

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"Tale n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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