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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GUDDLE, v., n. Also †guddel, gudle-.

I. v. 1. tr. To catch (fish) by groping with the hands under stones or the banks of a stream. Gen.Sc. Also (rare) to fish (a stream) by this method (see 1930 quot.). Also in Nhb. dial.Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-gatherer (1874) 75:
I guddle them in aneath the stanes an' the braes.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 71:
Up the burn we paidled, guddling trout . . . with trousers and sleeves buckled up.
Hdg. 1887 Mod. Sc. Poets X. 337:
Guddlin' troots or stickin' beardies and wadin' every pool.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle ii. vi.:
He knew no more than how to bait a line and guddle trout.
Abd. 1921 T. L. Morrison Murmurings 56:
An' oot aneth a mossy stane some muckle troot he'd guddelt.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon x.:
You lay over the bank and tried to guddle trout.
Sc. 1930 Wkly. Scotsman (31 May) 2:
I'll see the burnie pule by pule I guddled aft for troot.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 48:
The mavis sang and the rigs were avenues of green promise. Primroses nestled in moist corners along the burns and small boys guddled darting trout in the shallows of the River Irvine.
Sc. 1999 Independent 13 Nov 12:
Life is very different from the years when Mr Sinclair dug a trench, ... and "guddled" fish by tickling the underbelly with one hand, grabbing them with the other.
Sc. 2002 Scotsman 6 Apr 13:
I wonder if anyone has tried guddling. This technique involves reaching in and tickling the fish with your hand to lull it into a false sense of security before you wheech it out and throw it clear of the water.
Sc. 2003 Scotsman 8 Jan 5:
Or some backstage malarkey with Led Zeppelin and a freshly-guddled broon troot.

Hence guddler, one who catches fish by this method (Cld. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc.Lnk. 1919 G. Rae 'Tween Clyde & Tweed 72:
I close my een, and a' is seen, The burn edge, and the guddler's play.
Dmb. 1948 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 120:
His particular friends were the trout that sauntered up and down the Kilpatrick burn, for he was an expert guddler.

2. intr. To grope (for fish, etc.) with the hands in water. Gen.Sc. Also fig.Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 11:
. . . in noddles Whar science sits, an' grapes an' guddles.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxi.:
Groping about or (as they say) guddling for these fish.
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Heatherland 77:
They guddel't in the burn awhile.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
The way ye've seen the laddies guddlin for troot under the stanes.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxii.:
He could get what fish he wanted now by guddling.
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 36:
If you had been as nimble wi' your rod as you are wi' your tongue you wadna hae needed to guddle.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 22:
There, widin' an' guddlin', time seen slippit by.
Abd. 1937 Evening Express (19 April) 7:
Guddling for coal at the harbour is hard but remunerative work.
wm.Sc. 1937 W. Hutcheson Chota Chants 28:
Poor Dauvit was the clachan fool Who in the Dudhope guddled.

3. To bore, prod, poke with some instrument: (1) to stab, hack.Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales II. 219:
They guddled his loins, and they bored thro' his side.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 54:
In a barrel of feathers they stappit his head, And guddled the body till he was dead.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xliii.:
And the anawtomy? . . . Ye haena been fa'in' asleep again ower the guddlet carcass o' an auld pauper?

(2) To poke about with the nose, to nuzzle, nose about.s.Sc. 1824 J. Telfer Border Ballads 68:
They [hounds] guddled and chackit about his flanks, Till tired of the ploy.

(3) To make a hole in the soil by driving in a pointed wooden or iron bar and moving it to and fro to enlarge the cavity (Bnff., Per. 1954). Cf. n. 1.

4. Fig. To be engaged in dirty, messy work (Edb., Upp. Cld. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1955; Sh., Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s), to work with the hands in water (Mry.1 1925), to puddle (Per. 1955); to work in a careless, slovenly way, to mess about (m. and s.Sc. 1955), “generally applied to household work; also applied to children playing in the gutters” (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Abd. 1954). Also tr. to spoil by excessive handling (Ags., Fif. 1975). Also vbl.n. guddling. Ppl.adjs. guddled, bemired, made muddy or dirty, puddled; in a state of confusion or disorder, rumpled, disarranged (Ags. 1955), guddlin, messy, muddling. Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 21:
Wi' nowt an' sheep a' hash'd an' puddled; I think the farm is sairly guddled.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 29:
Lochs too are a' drained — wild-ducks hae nae wallees now to guddle in.
Ags. 1874 Kirriemuir Observer (6 Nov.) 4:
Atween the big blads o' rain an' ither henders we got, it was a dreich hairst till's, an' we were clean guddled wi'd.
Lnk. 1880 “G. Short” Clydesdale Readings 110:
They never get abune a meeserably hashy, nondescrip', guddlin' sort o' existence.
Ags.10 1925:
His claes were a' guddled up i' his drawer.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 81:
Oh, Dad, surely the two of us can guddle along for one meal. The egg stuff'll be in the press there.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 105:
It was the time in the year when we were able to tear off our socks and shoes and go guddling about barefoot in the clear pools.
Fif. 1991 Tom Hubbard in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 6:
We delight in wordplay, in guddling about in a language.
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 126:
This consisted of a screen obscuring the surgeon and his 'guddling about', as Sarah described it, from the conscious patient's view.
Ayr. 1997:
The magnum leisure centre area - that's whaur the cooncil guddle aboot [much ado but no progress].
Ayr. 1997:
He's guddlin aboot in a fish and chip poke.

II. n. 1. A name given to a blunt knife (Kcb.4 1900); a crowbar (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn; Per.4, Fif.17 1954), a pointed iron bar for making holes for fencing poles (Kcd., Ags., Per. 1955). Cf. v. 3. (3).

2. Toilsome, dirty or messy work (Edb., Upp. Cld. 1825 Jam.; Ags., m.Lth., Gsw. 1955).Lnk. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 147:
To count, his man and Tam were yoket, Ten hunder' thousand taties. Wi' neeves like grapes they to the guddle.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 19:
'Tween pats, pans, trantlooms, and stools; Wark bodies are ne'er out the guddle, Frae their cradles till laid in the mools.
Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 38:
But, air or late, wi' women folks, The guddle's never dune.
Ayr.4 1928:
A big family's an awfu guddle.

3. A mess, muddle, confusion (m. and s.Sc. 1955; Sh., Ork., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif., Edb., Arg., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 2000s); one who works in a careless, slovenly way (m.Lth. 1955).Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin viii.:
If my sin didna find me oot, my faither wad be sure to do sae, an' that wad be even waur than makin' a guddle o' the “reasons annexed.”
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxi. 20:
But lat ony fule get in amang't an' he'll mak a waesome guddle o't in a jiffie.
s.Ayr. 1951:
I'm just in a guddle; the weather has been against me, and I can't get ahead with things in the proper order.
Gsw. 1993 Margaret Sinclair Soor Plooms and Candy Balls 43:
... noo let me get on and sort oot this here guddle.
Yer faither will be hame soon, ah've no even started the tea,
Eat it up, that's a good wean ...
Ayr. 1997:
He hud forgotten aboot it in the guddle o his hamecoming.
Sc. 1998 Scotland on Sunday 9 Aug 2:
Robertson produced the exclamation-mark three minutes into extra-time. His winner was straight from the songbook, a scrambled, prodded effort amid a guddle of players. "Johnny Robertson!" the public-address boomed.
Sc. 2000 Evening Times 13 Nov 12:
However, it's flattering to think that they've followed our own Scottish examination results debacle so closely to produce such a guddle.
Sc. 2003 Aberdeen Evening Express 20 Oct 16:
If your wardrobe is anything like mine, it's a complete guddle of things that fit, and things you wish fitted. Mine is just a guddle, full stop, so I have no idea if it's worth the estimated £3,000 the average woman's apparently is.
Sc. 2004 Edinburgh Evening News 17 Jan 11:
Yet the council is pressing ahead, despite getting itself in a bit of a guddle over who should be exempt from the scheme.
Sc. 2005 Herald 3 Jan 17:
Lulu's appearance at Glasgow's Hogmanay celebrations at the start of the city's annus mirabilis, 1990, was part of an event that is generally remembered as a bit of a guddle.

Comb. gudlegaw, an uproar, contretemps, friction, source of contention. See Gaw, n.1 Sc. 1843 Willie Armstrong i. i.:
Ye'se hear o' the gudlegaw that's been atween Lizzie an' me.

[Imit., after such words as puddle, muddle, etc., phs. with influence from Gutter, v.1]

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"Guddle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 May 2024 <>



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