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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FANKLE, v., n. Also fangle (ne.Sc., Ags. 1951). [fɑŋkl + ne.Sc., Ags. fɑŋl]

I. v. 1. tr. To catch in a snare, to trap. Fig. to captivate.Sc. 1724 Ramsay Evergreen I. 196:
Our Ryal Lord [Quha] now is fast heir fanklet in a cord.
Lnk. 1924 Hamilton Advert. (19 Dec.):
They fankle me try hoo I will, These twa wee bonnie flooers.
Gall. 1930 per Wgt.3:
There's jist a possibeelity it micht ha'e got fankl't on an owerhangin' brench or the root o' a tree.

2. tr. To tangle, ravel, mix up (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., fangle; Abd.7 1925; em. and wm.Sc., Wgt., Kcb., Rxb. 1950). Also fig. Ppl.adj. fankled, fanglet, confused, tangled.Slk. 1826 Blackwood's Mag. (Feb.) 221:
The only fear I had was o' my long spurs; — but they never got fankled.
Cld. 1880 Jam.:
A person who has lost the thread of his discourse or has become confused is said to have got fankled.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 74:
He so fangled the laird's affairs, and drooned him in diffeekwalties and debts.
Gsw. 1904 J. J. Bell Jess & Co. x.:
It was jist the ither day I got fankled wi' some o' ma accoonts.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 126:
A fankled bit string, then a plunker an' glassie.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 212:
Turk wisely scratched his chest through a gap in his shirt. "It's age," he said. "It fankles the brain. Same with my mither. Same with us all some day."
wm.Sc. 1979 Robin Jenkins Fergus Lamont 8:
She spoiled every game she took part in. If it was peaver, she hopped on all the wrong squares; if it was skipping ropes she got them fankled round her neck.
Gsw. 1984 James Kelman The Busconductor Hines 55:
Toys and books were among the fankled blanket on Paul's cot
wm.Sc. 1995 Alan Warner Morvern Callar 42:
My body jerked awake and it was dead of night. The sheet was all fankled.

3. intr. To become ravelled or tangled, to catch (on) (Ayr., Rxb. 1952).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 103:
Stair had grown up into a great lang drink, and would fankled . . . if he fell.
Ags. 1869 Arbroath Guide (20 Nov.):
They knot an' fangle on the reel, Or snap in twa.
Bnff. 1925 G. Cumming A'anside Lilts 82:
His hooks an' line got fankled sair, He wroucht an' foucht to get relief, But aye they seemed to fankle mair.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 10:
Thro' slaps he breenged that hecht fu' weel, But fanklt on the leg or heel.

4. intr. To move the feet (or hands) uncertainly; to stumble (Ayr. 1950); to fumble. Vbl.n. fanklin, stumbling, faltering; ppl.adj. fankled, uncertain.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 254:
Her auld guidman as he cam warplin' an' fanklin' owre the muirs.
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's iii. 15:
He'll kep yer fit frae ony fanklin.
Sc. 1932 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 367:
Fearfully I fankelt in the breast and drew it forth.

II. n. A tangle, muddle. Gen.Sc.; an entanglement (Sc. 1818 Sawers); a predicament (m.Sc. 1952).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 202:
When cloth is in unrid folds, it is said to be in a fankle.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxi.:
Do you see that hank? . . . But it's all a fankle, as ye see.
Lnk. 1923 Bellshill Speaker (31 Aug.):
Nae wunner ma mind's in a fankle.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 30:
"But I do mind, Donald," said Rutherford, "and I don't care who kens it. You ken if it was left to me it would be different."
"I ken, Andrew. But human affairs aye get into a fankle."
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 18:
As the braw straggle skirled their way to the outskirts of the town the Sheriff's men, leaning from an upstairs window, dropped plaids on the company and took a handful of them in a blind fankle of wool and fringe.
Gsw. 1995 Chris Dolan Poor Angels 14:
He'd suggested she go to her Mum's - where she always went when she got into one of her fankles ...
Gsw. 1999 Jimmy Boyle Hero of the Underworld 37:
Having given me a rapid introduction to animal innards, he accurately tossed the trespassing hearts or lungs or whatever to their rightful tanks. I, meantime, found myself slithering in a fankle of intestines.

[Freq. forms of Fank, n.1, v.1, Fang, n.1, v.1]

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"Fankle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Nov 2023 <>



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