Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

TARTLE, v.1, n.1 Also tertle (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). [tɑrtl; s.Sc. tærtl]

I. v. 1. intr. To hesitate, to be uncertain as in recognising a person or object; to boggle, “as a horse does” (Lth. 1808 Jam.); to hesitate about clinching a bargain. Adj. tartlesome, disposed to start objections, captious (Dmf. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 311). Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 17:
A toom purse makes a tartling merchant.
Per., Lth. 1808 Jam.:
“I tartled at him,” I could not with certainty recognise him.
s.Sc. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 337:
They had borne me off or ta'en my life, I tartle not to say.

2. tr. To recognise, esp. after some uncertainty, to discern (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 270); also intr. with on. m.Lth. 1915 Glasgow Herald (22 Nov.):
I couldna tartle't him at a'. I tartled on him at yince.
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 54:
A lassie, tartlin' on him, speired Gif he was no' a crony.

II. n. A hesitation in the recognition of a person or thing (Lth. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. tartle, = I. 2., 1681. Orig. doubtful, poss. ultimately met from O.E. tealtrian, to totter, waver, be uncertain, but the historical evidence is wanting. Cf. Tolter.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Tartle v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2020 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: