Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
BIRL(E), Birrel, v.1 and n. [brl, bʌrl]
1. v., tr. and intr.
(1) To revolve rapidly, whirl round, dance; to make a rattling or whirring noise.
Sc. 1924 Glasgow Herald (13 Sept.) 4/8:
In rantin' reel or blythe strathspey That set the dresser dishes birlin'. Sc. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 16:
Roun' wi' a thoum, an' roun' wi' a thoum; Here's wee Wullie Wabster birlin' at his loom. Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 156;
The kettle birlin' ower the heat. Abd.(D) 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 20:
Hark the skip, “Soop up! Soop up! Birl, ye beauty! nail the cup!” Hdg. 1876 J. Teenan Song and Satire 5:
He birled me roond like Nannie's wheel. Lnk. 1923 G. Rae 'Mang Lowland Hills 59:
He birlet roond, an' aye the soond Was “Waes me, waes me, hell's deep pit.” Uls.(D) 1879 W. G. Lyttle Readings by Robin 21:
Sumbuddy tippit me on the shou'der. I birled roon, and there wuz the very boy I had haen the row wae.
ppl.adj. birlan, whirring, revolving.
Cai. 1930 John o' Groat Jnl. (21 Feb.) 2/2:
Then cam' 'e happy years til Willie's mill, 'E birlan peenyans dronan a' 'e day. vbl.n. birlin, a rattling noise. Bnff. 1884 C. Neill in Bnffsh. Jnl. (11 Nov.) 2:
It broke the birlin in his throat.
(2) To move rapidly, hurry along.
Sc. 1932 G. Rae in Border Mag. (Feb.) 23:
I maun be steppin' for the sun's gan birlin' doon. Ags. 1824 Literary Olio (20 March) 81/1:
Ye'll soon birl inby, into that machine, and it's a braw nicht, sae I winna hae a nasay. Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 67:
Fast to the Kirk the callan birl'd, An' the door snack he quickly twirl'd. Rxb.(D) 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes and Knowes 24:
It was nae teime owregane or oo war birlin owre the Trow Burn leike five ell o wund.
ppl.adj. birlin, bustling.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 82:
Cast aff yer coat, an' buckle to the darg; Fauld up yer sleeves, an' till't wi' birlin speed.
(3) To toss a coin to decide as to who should begin a game or pay a score; to club money for drink; hence in gen. to spend money, esp. in phrases like birl the bawbee.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems, Gloss.:
Birle, to drink. Common people joining their farthings for purchasing liquor, they call it birling a bawbie. Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
I'll pay for another [tass of brandy] . . . and then we'll birl our bawbees a' round about, like brethren. Sc. 1921 “K.O.S.B.” in Scotsman (18 May):
As a boy (only 25 years ago) I used the word “birl,” . . . as meaning to toss or spin a coin. . . . “Let's birl for sides,” [was] quite common. Abd. 1770–1780 A. Watson The Wee Wifeikie (1921) 8:
I met wi' kindly companie, I birl'd my bawbie. Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays and Lyrics 178:
When I've a bawbee in my pouch, I aften birl it frank and free. Edb. 1721 A. Pennecuik Streams from Helicon 79:
But the Farmers coming in to birle their Placks, We left the drunken Carles to their awn Cracks. Lth. 1825 ,
Children put half-pence on their fingers to birl them, as they express it, in the low game of Pitch-and-toss.
Hence birling, vbl.n., carousal; a drinking-match in which the drink is clubbed for. [Cf. Birl, v.2, 2.]
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet, Letter xi.:
We are no ganging to the Laird's, but to a blithe birling at the Brokenburn-foot.
(4) To whistle.
w.Sc. 1932 A. H. Charteris When the Scot Smiles 275:
“Birling” fiercely . . . at an imaginary Corporation tram that blocked the way. Lnk. 1923 J. S. Martin Scottish Earth 39:
The bark comes aff, it's [whistle] hallowed oot, And birlin' like a train.
(1) A turn, twist.
Ayr. 1852 M. Lockhead Poems and Songs 95:
I'll hae a birrel at “Jenny's bee” [bawbee]. Uls. c.1920 1 :
Birl, a quick turn.
(2) A rattling, ringing noise.
Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 18:
She exclaimed “Bang goes a guinea wi' a birl!” Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 88:
I've likewise got uncannie hotches Frae thoughtless Jehus driving coaches, Wha past me o'er wi' sic a birrel That made my vera back to dirrel.
(3) A brisk dance.
Ags. 1879 J. Guthrie Poems 48:
The lassies noo wad like a dancc — They're aye keen for a birl. Dwn.(D) 1886 W. G. Lyttle Sons of the Sod i.:
There's a lass hasnae had a birl yet; that chesnut yin wi' the white face.
(4) “A policeman's whistle” (Gsw. 1914 F.P. in T.S.D.C. I. 21; Ags.1 1934; Ayr.4 1928).
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 138:
Then a big, feckless polisman birl't on his birl.
(5) A drive in a conveyancc; syn. “hurl.”
Sc. 1921 J. B. Thomson in Scotsman (25 May):
While enjoying the drive in the horsebrake from Colinton to Craiglockhart car terminus, the driver revived a boyhood's word by remarking, “Oh, aye, it's a fine wee birl!”
(6) A thrust (in words).
Dwn. 1912 F. E. S. Crichton The Precepts of Andy Saul (1913) 26:
A'm not wishin' ill till anny Catholic hereabouts, but A'd thravel miles till hear the Rev. Northey takin' a birl at the Pope.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Birl(e) v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2019 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/birle>
Try an Advanced Search