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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HURKLE, v.1, n.1 Also hurkel (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 266), †hurkill, ¶hurcle; hirkle (Ags. 1890 Brechin Advertiser (8 July) 3); horkle. [hʌrkl, hɪrkl]

I. v. 1. Freq. with doun: to sit huddled in a crouched position either for warmth or secrecy, to draw oneself together like a crouching animal (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, hurkill; Abd.11 1910; Mry.1 1925; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 30; Uls.3 1930; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Cai., Peb., Kcb., Dmf. 1957). Also used fig.Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 110:
While I sit hurklen in the ase.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems 174:
Puir modest Worth, wi' cheerless e'e, Sits hurklin' in the boggie.
Peb. 1817 R. Brown Lintoun Green 37:
With shoes, each like a hurkled snail; With body like a crow.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 145:
Ere nicht hurkles doon at the back o' the gloamin'.
Kcb. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xxiv.:
He could do nothing but hurkle over the fire.
m.Sc. 1934 J. Buchan Free Fishers vi.:
Yonderdale begins where the twae hills hurkle thegither.

2. To walk with the body in a crouching position (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); to stumble along unsteadily “from the legs being rickety” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 84, Bnff. 1957); to stagger forward. Hence ppl.adj. hurklin, hunch-backed, misshapen.Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck i.:
The tane was a wee bit hurklin crile of an unearthly thing, as shrinkit an' wan as he had lien seven years i' the grave.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick III. viii.:
Hurklin' an' vizzyin' that gate like a wheen pointer dougs settin' paitricks.
ne.Sc. 1836 J. Grant Tales 58:
It was hurklin' Jamie Shaw o' White Stane.
Bnff. 1893 W. Gregor Dunbar's Wks. (S.T.S.) III. 48:
The loon gyd 'im a dunt o' the riggin' [back], an' he cam hurklin' ben the fleer, roarin' like a stickit bill [bull].
ne.Sc. 1909 G. Greig Folk Song xxix. 1:
And doon I hurkled to the howe.

3. To shrug the shoulders as if to allay discomfort or itching (Cai. 1902 E.D.D., Cai. 1957). Also in Eng. dials.

4. Fig. To crouch in submission, yield, give in (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Abd., Kcd., Ags. 1957). Freq. with doun. Cf. Hunker, v., 3.Slk. 1810 Hogg Forest Minstrel 193:
An' Grant, an' M'Kenzie, an' Murray, An' Cameron will hurkle to nane.
Abd. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 133:
Whan oor creature comforts are ta'en frae us, we hirkle doon an' sab.

5. tr. To bend over, lay prostrate.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
The corn was horkled wi' the wund.

II. n. 1. The upper part of the thigh, the hip (Abd.6 1913); the rump of a cow (Abd.13 1919). Also pl., the hams (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.).

2. A shrug, spasmodic movement of the body, a shudder, e.g. from cold or discomfort (Cai. 1957).Cai. 1928 John o' Groat Jnl. (17 Feb.):
A jist poo doon ma bonnad an' gie a hurkle an' say til Kirsty, Bliss ye, lassie, put a boorag or twa back o' 'e fire or ma teeth will be clatterin' in ma heid.

3. A hunch-backed or deformed person (Sh. 1957).

III. Combs.: 1. hurkle-backit, hunch-backed, misshapen (Sc. 1808 Jam.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Dmf. 1957); 2. Hurkle-bane, the hip-bone (ne.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Abd.11 1920; Cai., Kcd., Lnk. 1957). Phs. with semantic influence from Eng. huckle-bone, id.; †3. hurkle-durkle, (1) n. in phr. in hurkle-durkle, in indolence (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (2) v., to lie in bed or lounge about when one should be up and about (Ib.).1. Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 43:
O I'm an auld canty carle, wi' a frosty pow . . . Hurkle-backit, sairly rackit wi' rheumatic pains.
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 11:
Crampit, hurkle-backet, roon-shoudered wee sowls.
2. Abd. 1720 W. Meston Poet. Wks. (1802) 112:
She thratches, trembles, and she groans. And falls down on her hurkle bones.
3. (1) Fif. a.1825 MS. Poem (Jam.2):
Lang after peeping greke o' day, In hurkle-durkle Habbie lay . . . Gae tae ye'r wark, ye dernan murkle, And ly nae there in hurkle-durkle.

[O.Sc. hurkill, to crouch, from c.1500; Mid.Eng. hurkel, hurkle in 14th c. Appar. a freq. form of Hurk, though much earlier attested.]

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"Hurkle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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