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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1963 (DOST Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Kale, Kail(l, n. Also: kail(l)e, kayll; keall, keale; kele, keill, keile, keyll, keel; kell. [Common later variant of Cale n. The spelling kale is rare, the commonest form being kaill.]

1. Colewort, cabbage, or borecole.(1) 1546 Treas. Acc. VIII. 461.
For thair kaill distroyit and dountrod be mennis feit
1560 Inverness Rec. I. 46.
That … he lattis his gudis … destroy his kayll to gret quantete
a1568 Bann. MS. 137 b/29.
Ane rowsty quhittill to scheir the kaill
1573 Edinb. Test. III. 30 b.
Thrie ȝairdis of kaill
1603 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 28.
That thair sall be na maner of mercatt nather of … peattis, grass, kail nor herbis … on the Saboth day
a 1700 J. Maidment New Bk. Old Ballads (1844) 13.
Noganes full of hacket kaile
1700 Misc. Spald. C. III. 188.
The Egiptians stole his peatts and kaill
(b) 1600-1610 Melvill 134.
Twa or thrie crownes warit upon a stok of keall dressing
c1650 Spalding I. 49.
At Martimess, … the keall cam to seid and schot
1662 Crim. Trials III. 603.
We took … blaidis of keall, and haked thaim all verie small
(c) 1604 Shetland Sheriff Ct. MS. 147 b.
The haile inhabitantis … quha wantis kele and peitis to quit them selffis … of the stowtht of my lordis peitis
1604 Urie Baron Ct. 5.
Sik personis as beis fund onlauchfull, to wit, occupeiris in stouth, in stelyng of keyll, eldyng [etc.]
1622 Ib. 45.
1624 Brechin Test. IV. 174 b.
Certane inȝouis and keill within thair ȝeard
(d) 1614 Misc. Spald. C. V. 218.
The barlamen sall … sicht the persones … that hes not kell and peitis sufficient
1626 Banff Ann. I. 54.
Resaiweing of honest menis geir thifteouslie fra thair serwands sic as kell, peitis, breid
1661 Lanark B. Rec. 187.
The thiftious fackes of corne and kell committit be the persones following
1672 Hist. Kinloss A. p. xvi.
To furnish the hous suficientlie with kell, herbs and roots
1684 Dundee B. Laws 451.
Being found in ther yards gathring in ther kell in tyme of sermon
(e) 1643 S. Leith Kirk S. 45.
Helen Tailȝour … acknowledged her gilt of carrying kale on the Sabbath day
1698 Elgin Rec. II. 322.
The gardners … use frequently to vend and sell kale, fruits and roots upon the Sabbath day
(2) a1646 Wedderb. Voc. 18 (J).
Brassica, great kail, unlocked. Brassica capitata alba, white locked kail. Brassica crispa, frizzled or curled kail. Brassica minor, smaller kail

b. With qualifying words, denoting particular varieties. Also attrib. See also Bowcaill.viz. quhite, reid and grein kaill, hard kaill and lang kaill. 1550 Breadalbane Doc. No. 73.
The said Johne sall saw quhite kaill seid, reid kaill and vnȝeoun seid
1581 Elgin Rec. I. 164.
Sufficient bowkaill seid [in replacement of that which] grew bot bastard and reid kaill
1691 Corshill Baron Ct. 185.
The … destroying of his boll and reid kaill
1652 Peebles B. Rec. II. 4.
Ane private watche nightlie for trying pykeres of corne, eldine, or green kaille
1660 Melrose Reg. Rec. I. 289.
His hoggis hes pasturit daylie in his kaill yaird and hes eatin and destroyit the haill grein kaill plants
1691 Argyll Justic. Rec. I. 130.
There was a good quantity of green kail found hidd therein under the muck
1596 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 46.
Johne Duncane gardner awin me xx s with twa furris hard keill to be gifin my wyf quhen winter cumis
1631 Buccleuch Household Bk. 25 Sept.
For 2 hens 2 pare dous hard kell carrots neips
Hard keill
 — 16.. Blythsome Wedding in Sempill P. 67/5.
There will be lang-kail and pottage And bannocks of barley-meal
a 1700 J. Maidment New Bk. Old Ballads (1844) 13.
With croudy moudy they fed me. Lang kail and ranty tanty

2. Broth in which cabbage was a principal ingredient; hence, broth or soup, generally. 1535 Stewart 2762.
Quhilis milk but other breid or aill Without kitching or ony kind of kaill
a1568 Bann. MS. 138 a/76.
The wyfe said, Speid, the kaill ar soddin
1567 G. Ball. 206.
The monkis of Melros maid gude kaill On Frydayis quhen thay fastit
1590 Crim. Trials I. 196.
Quhidder the poysone foirsaid servit bettir to be gevin in eggis, browis or keill
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I. 105.
To eat sourrakis about sonue rysing, … siclyk to eat valcars, and to mak lavrie kaill and soupt
1645 Sc. Hist. Rev. XXX. 147.
Of beir to be kell, on peck
1649 Glasgow B. Rec. II. 179.
It is thoght they wald have kaill, an[d] so for this must have twa peckis of grottis in the monethe
a 1660 Sempill P. 37/728.
They sate so long, they cooled all their kail
1661 Elgin Rec. II. 297.
She did give him keall and meall and he eating or suping the samine [etc.]
1680 Irvine Mun. II. 285.
For stoves, broth and kaill [12/-]
1692 Pitcairn Assembly ii. (1817) 25.
Make a dish of kail of my powny
1731 Bk. O. Edinb. C. XVII. 71.]
[That beef to the value of 18 pence will make twenty four pynts of broth or kail, … To make the said 24 pynts of kail it will require eight pence worth of barley or grotts and greens

b. Wattir-kaill, vegetable broth made without meat. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2747 (B).
Skantly may he purches by his maill To leif vpone dry breid and wattir kaill

3. attrib. and comb.With bed, boord (brod), herb, leif, mercat, pie, plant, pot, seid, sellar, silvir, and Kale-ȝard. Kaill-bell, = dinner-bell. Kailman, -wyfe, a man, woman, who sells kale or greens (= kailsellar). Kail-runt, -stock, the stock of a kale-plant, a castock. 1612 Edinb. Test. XLVII. 63.
He lewis to William Patersoun … the rig of land & the kaill bed quhilk he presentlie hes the occupatioun of
1685 Soc. Ant. LVIII. 357.
The Laigh Hall, … a kaill bell
16.. Sanny Briggs in Sempill P. 48/21.
Wha'll bid me when the kaill-bell's rung To board me speed?
1643 Mun. Univ. Glasg. III. 536.
Ane kail boord with a baiking boord
1646 Edinb. Test. LXII. 282 b.
Ane kaill brod and ane salt pott
1556 Peebles B. Rec. I. 232.
That na scheip be pastured … within the fredome of burgh … for deistroying of kaill herbes
1535 Stewart 56288.
In it he left nocht scant worth ane kaill leif
1608 Edinb. Test., Index II. 269.
George Mair, kailman
1595 Edinb. B. Rec. V. 134.
[The council] discharges the said lokman of all taking of any dewteis of … herbes in the kaill merket
1650 Lanark B. Rec. 144.
The kaill mercat to be holdin qwhair Robert Durie his litster tries stand
1629 Lowther's Jrnl. 41.
The Scottish dialect … , a kealle pie, a pie with pieces of cut mutton and prunes
1597 Elgin Rec. II. 53.
A generall inhibitioun … to sell … upoun the Sabboth day ony kaill plants or unyeounes
1610 Mun. Univ. Glasg. I. 205.
Haiving licens to transport the kaill planteis
1540 Acta Conc. & Sess. MS. XIII. 119 b.
Ane skink pot, ane kaill pot, and ane posnate pott
1584 Edinb. Test. XIII. 191 b.
Ane beif pot, ane kaill pot, … with pot boulis
1593 Ib. XXV. 288.
Brander, beif pot, kaill pot, posnat pot
1602 Dundonald Par. Rec. 7.
Scho … seithit kaill rwnttis in watter for ane ill … scho had in her head
1598 Brechin Test. I. 166 b.
Awand … be the Lady Flemyngtoun for keill seid xvi s.
1600 Kirkcudbright B. Rec. 379.
Andro McGowane x s. for ane vnce kaill seid
1606 Edinb. Test. XLII. 18 b.
The sawing of kaill seid in xij beddis estimat to iiij lb.
1623 Crim. Trials III. 555.
Away-taking … off dyuerse herbis, … plantis, kaill-seid, artechoissis
1675 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 30 June.
Ane pund of kaill seed which proved unsufficient
1636 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 349.
Isobel Kelman, kailseller
1642 Aberd. B. Rec. III. 280.
Captors and searchers … , for the flesh marcat, fruit and keall sellaris about the croce, David Melvell
c1650 Spalding II. 411.
Johne Calder, keilsellar there [in Aberdeen]
1648 Rec. Old Aberd. I. 80.
Ordeanit that na kaill sellar or dilse sellar sall go to the toune of Abd. to sell the samen
1584 Glasgow B. Rec. I. 115.
[To] geif to euirie ane of the puir men … sax d. … for their kaill siluir
a1646 Wedderburn Voc. 18 (J).
Caulis, a kail-stock
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. i. 55.
They felled all our hens and cocks, And rooted out our kail stocks
1569 Edinb. Test. 243.
Bessy Gray, kaill wiff
1639 Bk. Pasquils 79.
The Kealwyves Comoninge or Currant Newes from the Parliament House
Ib. 80.
As I was walking by the Trone … I harde two kealwyffes sore complaine
a1689 Cleland 112.
Its follie with kail-wives to flyte

4. In many proverbs and proverbial expressions. 1584 Calderwood IV. 131.
To forge a querrell and be, like Chaucer's cooke, bussier nor yee mister, and skad your lippes in other men's kaile
1597 James VI Dæmonol. 16.
They that suppe keile with the deuill haue neede of long spoones
a1598 Ferg. Prov. (1641) No. 423.
Of weillie persons, … He kens his groats among other folks kail
Ib. 490.
If thou steal not my kail, break not my dyke
Ib. No. 557.
Kail spaires bread
Ib. MS. No. 356.
Dog flesh is good aneugh for hemlok kaill
1614 Highland P. III. 160.
Howevir they haif gottin there landis frielye of his majesties predicessouris yit ar they loathe, according to our Scottishe proverbe, to give him kaile of his owne peittis
a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 28.
A blak wif wil mak gude kail
Ib. No. 156.
Aples and new aile, quo the wower, Drownit mice and cald kaile, quo the maid
Ib. No. 1406; etc.
Oft the ladle in the pot maks thin kaile
1629 Kirkcaldy Presb. 53.
And quhair he ansers to that part, … that is no uther thing bot crambe recocta we replie that we think crambe recocta is cold kaill twyse sodden, bot [etc.]
1682 Lauder Observes 306.
The tyke would nather sup kail with the Divel, nor the Pope

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



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