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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GEEL, GILL, n., v. Also obs. forms gil, giel, geil, geyle, guil(l), gu(i)le, gool(e), guild, geald. Sc. (now only I.) forms and usages of Eng. gyle. [Sh. gi:l, gɪl; Ork. gi:l; †Sc. + gəil]

I. n. 1. The wort of ale or beer in its fermenting state (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), gil; Ork. 1929 Marw., geel). Also fig. = a ferment.Ork. 1747 in P. Ork. A.S. XII. 50:
Ane half barrel of white guild useless.
Sh. 1897 Shetland News (14 Aug.):
Man, for sic a guild o' het, dis is eneugh ta leep a body a'-tagedder.

Combs.: (1) gau(i)n geel, fermenting beer (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), gaun gil; Ork. 1929 Marw.); (2) gilfa, garfa, grefa, guyfa(ul); gyerfa (Lnk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 92), lit., a falling of the geel, the failure of the wort to work or ferment, esp. in phr. †to tak the gilfa (Ork.5 c.1912), fig. ‡a fit of idleness, laziness (Kcb.4 1900, grefa; Lnk. 1909, guyfa; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 26, garfa); (3) geel fat, the vat used for fermenting beer (Ork. 1929 Marw., geel-); also in Eng. dial.; sometimes simply gyle; †(4) geil-house, the place where the wort was set to cool (Mry. 1708 E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1865) 212, gool-; Abd. 1731 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 7, goole-; Per. 1737 Ochtertyre House Booke (S.H.S.) 247, guile-).(1) Sh. 1903 County Folk-Lore III. 256:
Gude man, gang in your gauin-geel — St Mary's men are we — An' gie's a can or two o' ale — before our leddie.
(2) Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier iii.:
She talks contemptuously of the hangers-on who daily and nightly support our village corners. Once she told me they were troubled with a complaint called the “guyfaul.” I had never heard the queer word before, and asked its meaning. “An inclination for meat, but nane for wark,” she promptly replied.
(3) Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
Two guill fatts, a masking fatt.
Ork. 1808 Jam.:
We'll have a tunned cog out of the gyle at Christmas, i.e. “an overflowing pot out of the vat in which the ale is working.”
(4) Abd. 1701 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 190:
27 August: — For mending and inlargeing John Ritchie's geil-house . . £1. 1s. 2d.
Fif. 1734 Caled. Mercury (9 July):
The Large Tenement of Land, lying on the South-side of the West-end of the Town of Kirkaldie, consisting of . . . a Brewhouse, Bakehouse, Gulehouse, Stables.
Abd. 1778 Aberdeen Jnl. (2 Nov.):
A Kitchen, Brew-house, Cellars, Closets, Geel-house, Garrets.

2. Fig. “The ripple of the sea on a sunken rock” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); “greenish or bluish foam around a sunken rock on which the sea is breaking” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), gil, Sh.10 1954, geel); “a ripple in the surface of water” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).

II. v. 1. To ferment. Found only in combs. (1) geelinfat, -vat, the vat in which wort is left to ferment (Ork. 1884 R. M. Fergusson Rambles 170, gealding-vat, 1929 Marw., geelinfat); †(2) geeling puncheon, id. (Ork. 1747 in P.Ork. A.S. XII. 49).(1) Ork. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 298:
Goodwife, gae to your geelin vat, And fetch us here a skeel o' that.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 51:
Gudewife gae to your gealding-vat — We're a' Queen Mary's men, An' let us drink till our lugs crack.

2. “To stir up a liquid (esp. water, spoon-meat), stir liquids together; to stir up the water and make it muddy” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); “to dabble in water or in any liquid” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
To gil de water or to gil i' de water; du maun no gil de gruel, boy!

[O.Sc. has geell, geil(l), gile, guyle, etc. in combs. geil-fat, from 1264, -hous, from 1529; Du. gijl, froth, ferment of wort. The I.Sc. forms come mainly direct from cogn. Norw. dial. gil, fermenting beer, O.N. gil-. The ne.Sc. spelling gool(e) is on the analogy of Feel, fool, etc.]

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"Geel n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Feb 2024 <>



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