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

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First published 1937 (DOST Vol. I).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Carl(e, Cairl, n. Also: karl(e, carll, carill; cairle, cair(i)ll. [ME. carl (c 1300), karl, ON. karl.]

1. A man of the common (esp. peasant) class; a husbandman or rustic. 1375 Barb. iii. 226.
Quhen thai armyt war and dycht, That stalwart karlis war and wycht
Ib. x. 158; etc.
He wes a stout carle and a sture
a1400 Leg. S. xxvii. 497.
Thane in the se The carle wod to the bat but bad
c1420 Wynt. i. 340.
Coryne … had grete lykyng To cast thai carlys [sc. giants] in werslyng
Ib. v. 4944.
Wyth hym twa carlys chargyd was To se and here and bere wytnas
?1438 Alex. ii. 4473.
Bot the carllis [F. li vilain] schot speiris on fer
Ib. 4480.
He … dang on thay carllis richt douchtely
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1818.
The lint ryipit, the carll pullit the lyne
Ib. 2032.
I trow … that ȝe sall se, Gif I can traist to bleir ȝone carllis ee
c1475 Wall. ii. 45.
The carll [= churl, 29, 39] was dede; of him I spek no mar
Ib. vi. 165.
Quhen that carle off fechtyng mycht no mar
a1500 Rauf C. 456.
The carll beheld to the knicht, as he stude than
a1500 Doug. K. Hart 739.
Methink thir carlis ar nocht courtlie clede
1531 Bell. Boece II. 469.
Ane of thir clannis … wagit ane carll [L. rusticus] … to debait thair actioun
1535 Stewart 31661.
Ane schiphird carle keipand a flok of fe
Ib. 53184.
With tha stanis thir stalwart carlis strang Ane bikker maid
1569-73 Bann. Mem. 6.
Giff there be ony stout carle that will fight, set me till him

b. With specific reference to class or rank. a1400 Leg. S. xlii. 9.
Quincyane … cumyne ves of carlis kine, Tho he til sic a stait can vine
14.. Acts I. 59/2.
A carl or a malar of service land
Ib. 299/3.
Al thir that ar lawer than thir in kyn ar callit carlis
c1420 Wynt. iv. 1599.
Threllys, both bownd or carle, That oysyd before to bere and harle
a1500 Henr. Fab. 1887.
This carle and bond of gentrice spoliate
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xxi. 23 (M).
A rebald to renoun dois rys, And carlis [B. cairlis] of nobillis hes the cure
1533 Boece xvi. vi. 620.
Ȝe nobillis of this kinrik owder of preistis, freris, carlis, or of hors verlottis war gottin
1549 Compl. 144/11.
The discriptione of ane vilaine (quhilk ve cal ane carl in our Scottis langage)
a1586 Lindesay MS. 44 b.
The prayeris of ane evill carle that is vngentill, that is to say, ane churle
1649 Bk. Pasquils 154.
Thanks to our sacred soverraine Charles, They now be knights were lately carles

2. In depreciatory use: A man or fellow, esp. one of little account or worth; an old man; a miser.Frequently with adjectives denoting character.(a) c1420 Wynt. iii. 48.
The carle was fat as ony selch
Ib. viii. 3169.
A gredy carle … wes Byrnand in swylk gredynes
c1475 Wall. vi. 469.
Sum scornyt him, sum gleid carll cald him thar
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 305.
Thai sell thar sonnis … for gold & gud Vnto ane mukrand carle
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 118.
Than mak I nyne crocis To keip me fra the cummerans of that carll mangit
Ib. 274.
With kissing, & with clapping, I gert the carill fon
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2791.
Fals carle, to speik to me stands thou not aw?
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2485.
Auld dossinnit carll (quod scho) I heir thé lie
c1568 Lauder Minor P. i. 584.
God maid Naball schortlie for to de … For ony fence the churlysche carll could mak
1593 Lennox Mun. 355.
It wes to cummer the carle he did it
1600 Crim. Trials II. i. 286.
He is ane silly ald gleyd carle, bot vonder honest
1746 J. Row Sermon 4.
Fain wald the carle been on the sadle again
1662 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. I. 240.
James Dounie cryed … to kill the said compleaner, the old carle
1664 Ann. Banff II. 46.
All the carles and quynes in Banff shold not separat James Barclay and her
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. i. 21.
The carl [sc. Mahomet] did boast That he spoke with the Holy Ghost
(b) 15.. Christis K. 206 (B).
Tha cairlis with clubbis cowd vder quell, Quhill blud at breistis out bokkit
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2038 (B).
Quhat sayis thow, cairle, art thow Gud Counsale?
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 38.
He would enter in the toun … and stryke his drume in despite of all the cairles
a1578 Pitsc. I. 268/7.
Ane auld cruikit cairll lyand in ane charieot
1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. 21 b.
Ane clatterin carlin, ane folische auld cairl
1603 Philotus xcvi.
Quha euer saw … Twa cappit cairlis mak sik ane stryfe
16.. Hist. Kennedy 9.
Feiring that the monk wald reweill itt, he caussit ane cairill … to stik [him]
He garit his fader broder … accuise this cairll for thift

b. Placed after an abusive noun. c1500-c1512 Dunb. Tua Mar. W. 89.
Ane auld wobat carle
1542 Elgin Rec. I. 68.
The calling of Nicoll Moressone swenger carle
1540 Lynd. Sat. 969.
Swyith! hursone carle; devoyd this place
Ib. 1933.
Quhen sic ane vilde begger carle may get entres
1557 Inverness B. Rec. I. 14.
Calland tham commone skeularis, glutton carlis
1568 Sat. P. xlvi. 35.
Na coukcald karle nor callingis pet
1583 Elgin Rec. I. 173.
Calling him auld wouff facet theiff carle and worriar of scheip

c. Carlis bird, get, as terms of abuse. 1542 Elgin Rec. I. 72.
Megot Stuart … calland the said Ellen and Margarat shabbit, clangorit carlis birdis
1575 Inverness B. Rec. I. 243.
Christan Nykquene … callit hir glangoir, myssaell, lypper carles geit scho was

3. Carl cat, a male cat. Carl hemp, the seed-bearing hemp-plant.Cf. e.m.E. carle or karle hempe (1573). a1605 Montg. Flyt. 670.
Thy tratling … wald gar … carle cats [T. cairl cattis; H. kerle catts] weepe vinegar with thair eine
1625 Edinb. Test. LIII. 114.
Ane stouk of cairill hempt vnpowit

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



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