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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SPRAUCHLE, v., n. Also sprauchel, spraughle, -el, sprawchle, sprachel, -il, -le, spraghil, -le, sprahal (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (15 Dec.)); sprochle, sproghal (Uls. c.1840 W. Lutton Montiaghisms (1924) 40); spraichle; sprackle, spraickle, sprockle; spraggle, spraagle (Ork.); and nonce reduced forms sprauch, spraick. [sprɑxl, sprǫxl]

I. v. To move or make one's way laboriously or in a hasty, clumsy manner, esp. in an upward direction, to scramble, clamber, flounder about, to struggle to extricate oneself from a restricted position, to sprawl, flail about with the limbs (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 435, sprawchle; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., spraughle; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson; Ork. 1929 Marw., spraagle; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Vbl.n. sprauchlin. Phr. to get spraugheled to, to reach after much exertion or difficulty.Ayr. 1786 Burns Meeting Lord Daer i.:
Sae far I sprackl'd up the brae. I dinner'd wi' a Lord.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick II. xiii.:
He sprawls and spraughles like a swine at the piggin'.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel xxxi.:
Wad ye have naebody spraickle up the brae but yoursell, Geordie?
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 49:
Puir body! owr the bed-stock coupit . . . Exceptin' her (for she lay sprauchin').
Slg. 1869 St Andrews Gazette (3 April):
There'll be some teuch sprachlin' in St Stephen's aboot the English Kirk yont in Ireland.
s.Sc. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 3:
Ere he gat spraugheled to the brae.
Wgt. 1877 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 358:
He gied a great stacher and fell sprancheling [sic] on the floor.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 117:
He spraggled like a livan partan.
Abd. 1914 A. McS. The Bishop 15:
Fin't wis sprauchlin' to the tap.
Uls. c.1916 S. S. McCurry Ballads of Ballytumulty 113:
I upped an' sprachled on.
Dmf. 1941 Gallovidian 7:
We've sprachilt thro' fair an' foul weather.
Gsw. 1953 J. Lavin Compass of Youth i. x.:
Sprachle through the streets ye'll never see again, sprachlin' in the night because ye're feert what the sun will show.
Edb. 1964 Weekly Scotsman (19 March) 2:
Her sprauchlin feet deep-ruitit in ablow.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 65:
The stobs o the win-break sprauchle
in the blufferts o this west wind
that gars the reid flag on the tee flame.
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 81:
The lift's oot the gemme an' ah hud tae sprachle up a' yon stairs. The elevator is not operating and I had to climb the stairs.
wm.Sc. 1988 Christine Marion Fraser Storm over Rhanna (1990) 71:
'You know fine you'd love to be there when the bairn comes,' she accused softly, 'that's the only reason you sprachled along that snowy road tonight.'
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 90:
An yit, for aw his bonnie fedders thare
the twalbore gentrie dinna muckle care.
Tae scape the butts he hesna a gret howpe ...
he sprachles lik a bumbee thro the air
an gets a chairge o leidshot in his dowp.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 40:
Syne up he sprauchles an' wauchles owre
tae the pub door an' sweys a moment
an' craiks: "Mind me noo," wi near a glowre
i the mochie een, ...
Gsw. 1991 James Alex McCash in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 16:
Proud, proven pair! Sae a'but you did smile;
Glaur'd, naked and slapped,
Then dichted and happed,
You sprauchled and gasped and girned and grat ootricht.
m.Sc. 1994 John Murray in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 102:
Spraichled on ma bed i the hert o Midlothian, like slaister on a causie stane, Ah wunner whaur aa th'aul men hae gan, whae yaised tae sweir an pynt an shak thair neives at aa the thrang ...

II. n. 1. A scramble, struggle, lit. and fig. Gen.Sc.Bwk. 1876 Minstrelsy of Merse (Crockett 1893) 223:
The warsle's ower wi' him, The spraichle an' the hoast are ower.
Ags. 1890 Arbroath Guide (22 Feb.) 4:
I let a sprachel to get up.
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Miners 76:
Hoo few e'er reached the tap, o' a' That dared the direfu' sprauchle.
Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 11:
Twa-t'ree meed a geud sprackle efter him.

2. Fig. a stunted, underdeveloped or feeble creature, a weakling (sm.Sc. 1971).Gall. 1921:
A boy brought into the house a small frog and his mother said, “Throw it oot, it's not but a sprochle.”
Gall. 1927 Times (4 Oct.) 17:
The comment of an old shepherd upon an announcement that a friend of his had blossomed into print: — “Any sprockle can write a book, but it takes a man to herd the Merrick.”

[The earliest form is sprackle, the -ch being a later development. Orig. prob. Scand., cf. O.N. sprokla, spraukla, Faer. sprakla, to sprawl, kick about with the feet.]

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"Sprauchle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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