Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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DREEL, v. and n. Gen.Sc. form and usages of Eng. drill.

I. v.

1. intr.

(1) Of things: to move rapidly, to hurry (Cai. 1949 (per Abd.27); Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2 1940; Fif. 1949 (per Abd.27)); of vehicles: to bowl quickly and smoothly along. Sc. 1808 Jam.:
We . . . speak of the dreeling or drilling of a carriage, that moves both smoothly and with velocity.
Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shepherd (S.T.S.) ll. 377–378:
The sight o' him gar'd a' her heartstrings dreel, An' she begins to sing, to dance and reel.
Abd. 1795 A. Shirrefs Sale Catalogue 20:
He'll gar't come dreelin' by the coach.

(2) Of persons: to work quickly and smoothly (Cai.7 1940), to push on. With up: to drive through (a piece of work) vigorously. Also in Wm. and Cum. dial. Cai. 1900 E.D.D.:
To dreel through a piece of work is to execute it speedily.
Bnff. 1870 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 268:
A' the wives o' Corncairn, Drilling up their harn yarn.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 51:
As she was souple like a very eel, O'er hill an' dale she forcefully did dreel.
Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS.:
We saw the hoose folks dreelin' on makin' things ready.
Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 8:
And bids the taylor haste and dreel Wi' little din.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xiv.:
I could hear the Supervisor dreelin' through a' the neuks o' the kitchen.

Hence dreeler, an energetic person (Fif. 1949 (per Fif.14)).

2. tr.

(1) To drive with force or peremptorily, to hustle. Sh. 1891 J. J. H. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 30:
Da brutes o Adam's sinfil stock, Frae Eden dreeld.
Ork.1 1949:
Deuno dreel the kye sae hard. The teacher dreeled the bairns thro twa standards in a year.
Cai. 1829 J. Hay Poems 88:
Oft they buzz'd wi' mony a cheer, Satan dreeling up the rear.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 23:
She dreel't the mannie doon the road an' swore she widna dee.
Kcd. 1797 Aberdeen Mag. 559:
Ye sudna crack o' craft nor field, Cries Davie, mind how Monsieur dreel'd Our lads ayont the sea.

(2) To scold, reprove sharply (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Fif.10, Kcb.9 1940). Vbl.n. drillin'. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41:
She dreelt him fae nine t' ten, and fae haiven t' hell.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 140:
E'en sacred Frien'ship gets her drillin's Tho' deep imprest.

II. n.

1. “A swift violent motion” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2); energy, forcefulness (Ags. 1949 (per Abd.27)). Sc.(E) 1879 P. H. Waddell Isaiah xxviii. 15:
Whan the bremin sweel gangs by wi' a dreel, it sanna win nar oursel.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41:
He cairries on's wark wee some dreel.

Phr.: †at full dreel, at full speed. Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 115:
A knott of men advancing at full dreel.

2. A short spell of stormy weather (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41; Bnff.12 1900), esp. in phr. a dreel o' wind, a gale, a hurricane (Bnff.12 1900). Abd. a.1807 J. Skinner Amusements (1809) 94:
A dreel o' wind, or nip o' frost, . . . Has aft the farmer's prospects crost.

3. “A quantity of work speedily done” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41). Ib.:
That's a rehl dreel o' wark pitten behan' the day.

4. A scolding, a vigorous dressing-down; a rough handling (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 41; Cai.7, Bnff.2 1940; Abd.27 1949; Ags.2 1940). Sometimes in pl. (Abd.7 1925). Bnff. 1917 Bnffsh. Jnl. (4 Dec.) 5:
Aften they got dreel For bidin' till the skweel wis in.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads I. 26:
And he became a rose-kaim'd drake, To gie the duck a dreel.
Abd. 1922 Wkly. Press (14 Jan.) 1/1:
Wi' muckle heid-shakkin' their bairns they'd tak' in An' gie them a dreel on committin' o' sin.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Contemplation 264:
Stools, water-tubs, an' washin' skeels, A' got a dreel, in Katharine's fizzes.

[The long vowel is reg. found in O.Sc. dreilling, 1626, dreil, dreel, 1648, of military drill, and may be due to the analogy of Skeel, Sweel, etc. See also Dirl, v.1, n.1]

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"Dreel v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2020 <>



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