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

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Rol(l, Row, v.2 Also: role; roul(l, rowl; rowe, rou. P.t. also rold, rollde. P.p. also rold(e; rowin. [ME and e.m.E. rolle(n, roule(n, v.r. roile(n (Chaucer), also 17th c. north. Eng. dial. rou, OF rueler, roeler, roler (all late 12th c. in Larousse), rouler (14th c.), late L. *rotulare, f. rotūla, dimin. of rōta a wheel.]Usu. with locative complement.

1. tr. To move (a person or thing) along a surface by turning (him, it, etc.) over and over. Also fig. a1400 Leg. S. xlii 255.
Thane bad he schellis & brynnand cole Straw in the floure … & nakyt thare-one hire rol
Ib. xlv 218.
He … gert foure wicht men to ga That suld rol hire to & fra
1540 Lynd. Sat. 4352 (B).
Scho fell in soun And than thay rowit [Ch. rubbit] hir vp and doun
1558 Edinb. Old Acc. I 265.
To xv men rowand stanis to balk the dam at Maris myln
1562 Old Dundee II 222.
[They] hes contemptuouslie casten and rowit the greit stanes of the town's wark in the castle burn
c1610 Melville Mem. 24.
They … wer brunt with the fyre brandis that they did row doun the stey bra
c1631 Paterson Ayr & Wigton I xii.
Ane stane … Quhilk … He rolled away
1638 Henderson Serm. 376.
Diogenes … went up to the side of a hill and rowed his tub up and down
fig. 1513 Doug. i ii 56.
The huge wallis weltris apon hie, Rollit [Sm. Rowit] at anys with storm of wyndis thre

b. To move (something) by means of rollers placed underneath it. 1554 Treas. Acc. X 234.
For four greit treis to row the cannoun witht
1615 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 363.
To the men that rollit thame [sc. the cannon stocks]

2. Chiefly in Doug.: To drive, or draw (a cart or chariot, or its occupant).(1) 1513 Doug. vi ix 115.
By horssis four furth rollit was his char
Ib. xii Prol. 31.
Pheton with the quhyp hym quhyrlys, To roll Appollo hys faderis goldyn char
Ib. v xii 102. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 426.
Phebus … As roye royall, rollyng in his speir … in to his goldin cheir
(2) a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 217.
The feird … rollis Phebus doun into the sey
1513 Doug. xii iv 10.
Nixt quham furth rollyt was Prynce Turnus bald Within a twa quhelyt chariot of delyte

3. To turn round, or cause to rotate, on or as on an axis; to turn over and over. 1513 Doug. iv ix 18.
The huge Atlas … rollys the round speir … Full of thir lemand starnys
fig. 1513 Doug. iii vi 44.
The kyng of goddis so distributis the fatis, Rollyng the chancis, and turnyng thame thusgatis

b. To turn over and over (in filth, etc.). Chiefly or only fig. Also reflex. 1596 Dalr. I 152/3.
And that he mycht his fleshlie pleisures the frilier serue, and with the gretter confidence row him selfe in al filthines
Ib. 291/4.
Thame selfes to be rowit in the clay puddil of al vice

c. Of a man: To penetrate and have sexual intercourse with (a woman). 16.. Trip and Goe Hey in Wode's Psalter (ed.) 245a.
A joly young frier hes raised my womb That ever I did it … alace … Come rake me the rowing tree, Come row me roundabout [Forbes Cantus Come row to me round about] Bony dowy Robin, Robert, Joly Janet & who plays on your pen, Joly Robert Your gimpinot plays the tirl, the tirl … And like ye not play with me

4. To wrap (oneself, another person, or a thing) (up) in cloth or paper. Also fig. 1588 King Cat. 97.
To rou ȝour selfs in hair claith
1590 Edinb. B. Rec. V 332.
Tua ellis of quhyt talphetie that the bairn was rowin in
1596 Dalr. I 93/14.
In thir … mantilis … thay rowit thame selfes
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. 393.
As Joseph … rollit the bodie of the Lord within ane … claith of fyne lane
c1635-80 Edwards Commonpl. Bk. 41b.
Shoe rouid it in hir aprone
fig. 1596 Dalr. I 341/8.
His forspeikings … war … sa inuoluet and rowet vp in allegories & dark sentences
1682 Lauder Observes App. iv 306.
The Test, as it was rowed up, had many plyes and implications in it

b. To wrap about (a person); to wrap (something) about (with something). 1684 Oliphants 286.
For a boult of broad knittings to row about him in his cheircloath
1686 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. XIII 32.
If they … had not … receaved from the packitt boyes … the saids bypacquets or byletters rolled about with paper

5. To form something into a coil, roll or ball, to fold, or curl, up; to insert (something) in a roll or coil; also, to roll, or twist, (two things) together.(1) 1581-1623 James VI Poems II 48/30.
Thou glancing lou Haill roundly rold [v.r. rolde] … His praise furth shou
1641 Acts V 637/2.
He did sie a paper in Lieutenent Colonell Stewartis hand whiche wes rowed vp
(2) 1591 Crim. Trials I ii 252.
Indytit, of … ressauing fra hir … inchantit mwildis and powder put in ane peice paipar, to be vsit and rowit in your hair
(3) 1673 Dundee Chart. No. 110.
The escutcheon being supported by two dragons, their tails rowed together

b. To row up, to wind up (a clock). Cf. Rolling vbl. n.2 2 a. 1698 Dunferm. Ann. 363.
That he should not only daily row up and wait upon the knock

6. To shape or smooth (metal) by use of a roller, revolving stone, or the like; ? to cut a gem.See also Rolling vbl. n.2 1 (4).Cf. 19th c. Eng. rove to reduce (a grindstone) in diameter by means of a special tool.With quot. Henr., cf. In-rold, where roll is differently interpreted. a1500 Henr. Fab. 875.
A croun of massie gold … With iaspis ionit and royall rubeis rold
1529–30 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 27.
To the said William for the auld vedgis rowit and betit
1610 Hilderstoun Silver Mines II 108.
For making of ane boull and turning of it to James Achesone to row his taist [= test piece] with
1629 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 295.
Ane mell rowet

7. To revolve, or turn over, (an idea, etc.) (in the mind or memory); to consider, contemplate. Also absol. or intr. 1513 Doug. v xi 12.
Juno … Rollyng in mynd full mony kankyrryt blok
Ib. xiii iii 12.
Kyng Latyn … in his breist … Was rollyng mony diuers selcouth chance
1531 Bell. Boece II 390. c1530-40 Stewart Maitl. F. 370/1.
Rolling in my rememberance Off court the daylie variance Me think [etc.]
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 227/232.
In cairfull mynde the generall … rollde Quhat … array uolde best fitt suche ane armee
absol. or intr. 1579, 1617 Despauter (1579).
Voluere, to row or pans

8. To cause (one's eyes) to roll as an expression of emotional disturbance or in order to obtain the widest possible range of vision. Cf. 14 a below.(1) 1513 Doug. iv vii 3.
Dydo … Rollyng vmquhile hir eyn now heir now thar With syght onstabil
(2) c1590 Fowler I 58/13.
And quhillis I rold in ewerye syd my gasing restles ene Gif I culd spy [etc.]
Ib. 66/219.
Evin so did I thair cast my eyes and roll thame round about The more perfytlie for to vew [etc.]
1650 Rec. Kirk Scotl. 596.
He sighed … and roulled his eiyes alonges all the corners of the housse

9. intr. To revolve round, or as round, an axis. b. To move from one place to another or on (doun) a course by, or as by, rotating. Also proverb. c. = 3 c above. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1658.
The firmament payntit with sternis cleir, From eist to west rolland in cirkill round
Id. Orph. 267 (Bann.).
On it [sc. a wheel] spred a man hecht Exione Rolland about
b. 1513 Doug. iv x 5.
As the starnys thar myd cours rollys doun
1643 Fugitive Poetry II xx 5.
The bals did roul; both heaven & earth did rumble
1657 R. Moray Lett. fol. 75.
Let bowles rowl as they will
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1585.
Ye breid of a clew ye ar ay rowing

c. Trip & Go in Forbes Cantus (1666).

10. To move with an irregular, or rocking, motion. Also fig. a1500 Henr. Orph. 284 (Bann.) (see Rok v. 3 (1)).
1513 Doug. iii ii 14.
Quhen it [sc. Delos] flet rollyng from costis to and fro
1654 Strathendrick 8.
Roleing and noding upon his horse
fig. 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 763.
And rolland thus in diuers fantaseis Terribill thochtis oft my hart did gryis

b. ? To tumble down. 1513 Doug. ix ix 37.
The byrnand towr down rollys with a rusche

11. To press newly-carded wool into a roll before spinning. c1420 Wynt. iii 731 (W).
His vse wes mare to roll and spyne [R. wytht rok to spyne] Than thai landis to corne to wyne

12. To ride in (intill) a wheeled vehicle. 1513 Doug. x v 3.
The moyn intill hyr … cart of nycht Held rollyng [Sm. rolland] throw the hewynnys myddil ward

13. Of time: To pass. Also, to roll our or away. 1513 Doug. i v 72.
That the ȝong child … Thretty lang twelfmonthis rolling [Sm. rowing] our sal ryng
Ib. iii viii 13.
Or the speyre his howris rollit richt Sa far about that it was scars mydnycht
Ib. v xii 134.
The donk nycht is al maist rollyt away

14. a. Of the eyes: To move or turn to and fro in the sockets. Cf. 8 above. 1513 Doug. iv xii 96.
With eyn rollyng, and twynkland vp ful fane, Assays scho to spy the hevynnys lyght
Ib. viii iv 102.
Now heir his eyn, now thar, rollyng in hy
a1568 Bann. MS 219b/14.
Quhois cristall ene vnto my mynd rolling Renewis [ed. Reuellis] my pane but solace

b. Of a sound: To re-echo. 1513 Doug. v iii 89.
Endlang the costis the vocis and the sowndis Rollys inclusyt, quhill the mekyll hyllys Bemys agane

c. Of a restless sleeper: To turn over and over, as in restlessness. c1590 Fowler I 193/2.
From syde to syde I turne And restles rowe as on a edge of thorne

d. Of snow: To row togeather, to whirl round in currents when falling. c1590 Fowler I 84/208.
Whytar than the snow Which gathered is in flokkis but winde and dois togeather row

15. a. To indulge oneself in a passion or lust. b. To abound in (riches).a. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1602.
Ane lord … Rolland in warldlie lust and vane plesance
1540 Lynd. Sat. 521 (B).
Ane prince of pissance … Rolland in his rage
b. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2944.
Now pure as Job, now rowand in riches

16. Of thoughts: To revolve in (a person's) mind; to be under consideration. 1513 Doug. x xi 185.
In mynd dyd he cumpas Full mony chancis rolland to and fro
Ib. xiii xi 25.
Quhat thochtis now doith rollyng in thy mynd

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"Rol v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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