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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

HANTLE, n. Also hantel (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.); hauntle (Lnk. 1926 W. Queen We're a' Coortin' 14); huntle (Bch. 1913 W. Fraser Jeremiah Jobb 27), and hantla [hantle o', confused with handla- in Handlawhile] (Sc. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottage 181).

1. A considerable quantity (of things), a large number (of persons), a great deal; often used with a following noun with ellipsis of of. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (1876) II. 391:
And rattles out a hantla stories O' blood, and dirt, and ancient glories.
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 23:
He connach'd a hantle o' tobacco.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 283:
Thae, an' a hantle scenes that I cou'd name, Sal ay mak mine to me a happy hame.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf i.:
They believed a hantle queer things in thae days, that naebody heeds since the lang sheep cam in.
Bnff. 1832 in J.F.S. Gordon Chrons. Keith (1880) 321:
Ye've great reason to be thankfu' that ye get a dover in the Day time, for hantels o' folk dinna get that.
Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 1:
A hantel speak o' my drinking, but few ken o' my drouth.
Ags. 1896 Barrie Sentimental Tommy xxxvi.:
Puckle was nearly the word, but it did not mean so many people as he meant . . . “I ken the word now,” he cried, “it came to me a' at once; it is hantle!”
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet III. ii.:
There's a hantle o' folk pass by here at a' 'oors.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Navember 4):
Some folk's oo needs a hantle o creesh.
s.Sc. 1930 Border Mag. (Aug.) 117:
Tho' no' very big, maybe twanty-twa pun', Ye certainly cover a hantle o' grun'.
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 45:
Ach weel, I've a hantle pitten by,
Eneuch for John or his lad, and Catherine,
Sc. 1991 R. Crombie Saunders in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 30:
The son brak out in lauchter:
"There's a twa-three chiel at the inn
Can mak a hantle o siller
An'll show me hou it's duin!"
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 25:
... the weans got thir licks
frae the dominie
for yasin the auld leid
but it niver dee'd, though
a hantle o fowk hae trockit
thir tongue for a pig in a poke ...
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 3:
Their merriagable sizzen wis a hantle o years atween saxteen an twinty-sax.

2. Used adv. with indef. art. before a comparative adj. = much, a good deal. Gen.Sc. Also a hantle sicht, id. (Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel 231; m.Lth.1 1956), a conflation of 1. with Eng. slang sight sim. used.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxxv.:
I'm wearied o' the trade . . . I like the pleugh-paidle a hantle better.
s.Sc. 1821 A. Scott Poems 130:
Good news, good news, now fortune smiles, The meal's a hantla cheaper.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxi.:
But to be strung up by the neck for the thing ye never did is a hantle waur than the maist o' folk wad care to thole.
Hdg. 1886 J. P. Reid Facts and Fancies 51:
There's a hantle sicht owre muckle findin' faut.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xvi.:
It's a hantle caulder here than in London.
Lnk. 1904 I. F. Darling Songs 39:
Then I liket faither weel, Noo a hantel mair.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood iv.:
But we'll be a hantle better off . . . whan she's a finished teacher.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 81:
Him it kens your inside a hantle better as doo kens da inside o da moorit hug it doo slachtered a Foersday?

3. An unspecified number of people, often used by travellers.Per. 1979 Betsy Whyte The Yellow on the Broom 107:
'Stall, hantle binging!' (Stop, there are strange people coming!)
e.Lth. 1985 Mollie Hunter I'll Go My Own Way (1987) 25:
The cottages were of the kind usually occupied by farm workers and their like - in traveller terms, 'the country hantle'.
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 124:
The hantel aa celebrated with the laddie's nesmore, who wis completely overjoyed.

[O.Sc. has hantill, id., ? 16th c. Of somewhat uncertain orig. but prob. a reduced form of O.Sc. and Mid.Eng. handfull, with unusual phonological development. Parallels are Cairtle, Cogill, O.Sc. schippill (shipful), and ? Fersell, the ending -full alternating with -fu', as Full with Fou; and for -nt-, cf. Hanty. Less likely is the conjecture that the word is a reduced form of hand + tale, number (N.E.D.), sc. what one could count on one's fingers.]

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"Hantle n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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