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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SHACKLE, n., v. Also shak(k)le, shakel, schackle; sha(u)chle; shaikle, sheckle, shekel. [ʃɑkl, ʃekl]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a fetter, manacle; a rope used in hobbling a horse (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.), now dial. in Eng.

2. The wrist (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 270; ‡n.Sc., Fif., Ayr. 1970). Combs. (1) shackle-bane, -been, (i) the wrist-bone, carpus (Sc. 1741 A. M'Donald Galick Vocab. 15, 1808 Jam.; Ayr. 1928, shauchle-; I. and n.Sc. (-been), Per. 1970); the wrist part of a glove; (ii) the ankle-bone (Arg. 1882 Arg. Herald (3 June)); (iii) the knuckle-bone in an animal's leg; (2) shakel joint, = (1) (i).Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 1:
In the coorse o' time, The sheckle's no, sae souple.
Ags. 1995 Courier 18 Mar :
"I remember the recipe [for a tattie-bogle] was also a good lesson in old Scots words. ... The cross-sticks supporting his shuiders have to be fixed at the oxters, and then his slaives have to be tied to his shakkles with bits of sparty. ... Breeks for his shanks, bauchles for his feet, and the tattie-bogle is complete. ... "
(1) (i) Sc. 1729 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 106:
He . . . drugs till he has ‘maist disjointed His Shekelbane.
Sc. 1755 Session Papers, Primrose v. Primrose (24 Nov.) 14:
Burnbrae's Hands to his Shakle-bone were swelled.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 50:
She grippet my shakle bane.
Rxb. 1811 A. Scott Poems 95:
A pair o' mittens i' my kist at hame, Fring'd at the shacklebanes wi' red an' green.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet xi.:
The shackle-bones are of the largest, and so they were obliged to keep the handcuff wide.
Ags. 1893 Arbroath Herald (11 May) 2:
Oor Tam fell an' broke his shackle been.
Ork. 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 5:
The arm from the “knap o' de shackle-bane to the knap o' de shoother” is the “peerie cubic” measure (about 15 inches).
Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 29:
Doon he cam' an' brak his shackle-bane.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen Wi Da Trow 59:
Till his haand fell at da swird strake, Severed at da shackle bane.
(ii) Slg. c.1860 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1924) 24:
Steppin' oot the gait o' your coaches o' state, Gangs in't tae the sheckle-bane.
(iii) Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxxxviii.:
Gin ye hae the shackle-bane o' a mutton ham.
(2) Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 191:
He shook hauns wi' Alick an' me till we thocht he wad ha'e dislocated our shakel joints.

3. In pl.: the cross pieces between the beams in a corn-drying kiln on which the straw and grain are laid.Rs. 1733 W. MacGill Old Rossshire (1909) 123:
The Kiln: in the lom 6 cupples. The summers and shackles.

4. The hinge of a flail joining the souple (Soople n. 1) to the handstaff.Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. ii.:
The mid shackle o' the third man's ane had been ta'en oot, an' a bit orra rape pitten in instead.
Abd. 1926 Banffshire Jnl. (23 March) 2:
The flail has gone; no need to speak of the “handstaff”, the “shaikle”, and the “souple”, the “bowster” and the “chap”.

5. The link-fitting which connects the ploughbeam with the swingletree (Cai., Kcb. 1970).Sc. 1845–7 Trans. Highl. Soc. 210:
A set of two-horse draught-bars for equalising the draught. This article exhibited no novelty, the construction being nothing more than the well-known shakle, (or fulcrum,) which, by lengthening one arm of the lever, (the main bar,) and shortening the other, gives the means of accommodating the naturally unequal power of a heavy and a light horse when yoked in the plough or harrow as a pair.

6. The clamp which holds the shaft of a plough coulter to the beam (Cai., Abd., Fif., Lth., Kcb. 1970).Fif. 1950:
In the case of a plough which has no thorough-hole in the beam for the top of the coulter to go up through, the shaickle is the device which holds it on to the side of the beam — consists of a “buckle” plus various contraptions for adjusting the set of the coulter.

7. A kind of fiddle-block used in hauling a boat up on a beach (Bnff., Dmb. 1970).

8. In Curling or Bowls: a group of stones or bowls so arranged as to guard or block effectively the approach to the tee (Gall. 1970). Hence shackle-guarded, of the tee: guarded in this manner.Sc. 1909 Handbook Sc. Carpet Bowling Ass. 92:
No matter how Jock played, no matter how he guarded and double “shauchle” guarded, this swivelling, swerving, double-knocking “bool” of the stranger, just as the need arose, would clear or avoid all obstacles.

9. The afterbirth of an animal (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1970).

II. v. As in Eng., lit. and fig. Hence vbl.n. shacklin, a shackle, a hobble for a horse or cow (Sh. 1970); one of the rods that hold a river salmon-net open (Bwk. 1970).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (1 Oct.):
He wid be suntin' ta geng an' hattir da twa eemages o' lambs new aff o' der midder, first wi' Mansie's njittlen apo der lugs an' dan da shakklin.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 47. 11:
My eddication wis interrupted gauin ta da craigs, rudgin leys, makin shacklins, constructin geese-skyaags, an edder activities.

[O.Sc. schakilbane, wrist, 1571.]

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"Shackle n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Feb 2023 <>



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