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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WAMMLE, v., n., adv. Also wamle, wam(m)el, -il, whammle, waum(m)le, -el, waamle; wom(m)le, womble (wm.Sc. 1887 Jam.), wummle, -el, wumble; wimil, -mel, waimble; ¶whummle-, ¶whamble (Sc. 1827 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 42) and reduplic. form wimble-wamble. [wɑml, wǫml, wʌml]

I. v. 1. Of the stomach or its contents: to roll, to stir uneasily, rumble queasily (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1905 E.D.D.; Bnff., Abd., Fif. 1973). Also transf. and fig. Vbl.n. wammlin.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 164:
They toutit aff the horn Which wambles thro' their weym Wi' pain that day.
Mry. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 89:
Earth's guts seem'd wamblin' roun'.
Edb. 1882 J. Smith Canty Jock 76:
Sweet an' bitter's aye wamblin' in the great wame o' humanity.
Abd. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd ix.:
I aye fin' an awfu' wammlin' an' duntin' here aboot. I'm some fley't that there's something vrang wi' my he'rt or liver.
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 8:
Thro' puishon wamblin' aboot her wame.
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 217:
A luttul wee maan wee a tummur haat,
Un aw dhe weim oa um waamlin.
Ans. Dhe paat oan dhe fir.
Edb. 1916 J. Fergus The Sodger 20:
A' that unco feelin' that was wummlin' in his wame.
Abd. 1935 J. White Sea Road vii.:
I ate ower muckle panjottral at the weddin' the other nicht, and my inside's been waumlin' ever since.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 45:
'Fits this ye were up to at denner-time then? Did ye like it? Eh?' Looking at the tremble of his hands and the leer on his face, my stomach whammelled.

2. (1) Of persons and animals: to roll about, to wriggle, writhe, slither, wallow (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 207, waumle; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., wummel; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I., ne., em.Sc. (a), Lth., sm.Sc. 1973) Also in n.Eng. dial.Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 28:
They'll something wamble in your wame, Just like an eel.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 16:
Laid him arselins on his back, To wamble o' the yerd.
Slg. 1808 W. Watson Poems 25:
He fell a wamling like an eel.
Lnk. 1838 J. Morrison M'Ilwham Papers iv.:
Twa hail days atween Donaghadee and Portpatrick, wamlin and spuin i' the haud o' the auld Palmer.
Fif. 1883 W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 72:
I warsled, an' wriggled, an' sprawled, an' wambled aboot until I got my head aboon board.
Gall. a.1897 Rob Ringan's Plewman Cracks 29:
Syne they [horses] lie doon among the balmy grass an' wammle on their backs wi' their cawkers i' the air.
Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chronicle (9 Aug.) 4:
When hooked [a grayling] may make one vigorous leap, and “wammle” and plunge about for a few seconds.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxvi.:
A wammlt richt up 'e dutch aneth 'e funs upo ma wime.
Sh. 1971 New Shetlander No. 97. 28:
He lay apo his bed an he wumbled aboot.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 7:
The teem ee sockets glower at sichtless vistas,
An anatomical sculpture, dreich an deid.
The wame wi wachts o snaw is cauldly fillin,
Thon laired loins far wummlin maggots feed ...

(2) Of things: to roll, toss, wriggle, wobble, quiver, to twist and turn, slither about (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., ne., em.Sc. (a), Lth., sm.Sc. 1973). Comb. womle-brees, a dish of the same ingredients as a haggis but of a liquid consistency and served as a soup (Kcd., 1825 Jam., wimmelbree, -breis; Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C., whummle-breese). See Bree, n.1Sc. 1718 Analecta Sc. (Maidment 1834) I. 197:
A stone thrown down the chimney wambled a space in the floor.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxiv.:
I see the creature [a hippopotamus] wallowing and wantoning in some wide river wi' its muckle glad e'en, wamling wi delight in its black head.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 12:
A mad maid had a sang . . . But it jumilt and jamilt, It wimilt and wamilt.
Abd. 1868 G. MacDonald R. Falconer II. xxi.:
I dinna think she cud capsize, but for wamlin's she's waur nor a bairn with the grips.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 8:
She has a ringle ee, that's aye wammle-wammlin' about.
Abd. 1889 W. Allan Northern Lights 135:
Dimplin', wimplin', Tumblin', wumblin', Rattlin', prattlin' [of a stream].
Abd. 1893 G. MacDonald Songs 111:
Watchin the blue peat-reek Wamle oot up the muckle lum.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 127:
Odd bits of beef were cut very fine, such as the “stickin'-bit”, small pieees of the liver, and heart and kidneys, and the whole made into a soup, which was called “womle-brees.”
Sc. 1928 Scots Mag. (July) 274:
We wadna bide a donnert organ here, Wi' wheeplin' screigh or wamblin' wailin' tear.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 9:
Davie's pooch sterted tae wummle, as the Steeler lowpit up an doon wi excitement.

3. To stagger, totter, move or walk with a weak infirm or unsteady motion (Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journal (M.C.) 128; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 274; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I., ne.Sc., Per., Slg., Fif., Lnk. 1973), also in Eng. dial.; to sway or reel, in dancing; to be in poor uncertain health, to shake, shiver (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also fig. Hence wam(b)lin, wamelin, a puny, feeble, undernourished person or animal (Cai. 1825 Jam., Cai. 1973), comb. filty wamlin, as a term of disparagement, a troublesome person, esp. a child (Cai. 1911 John o' Groat Jnl. (17 March)).w.Lth. 1768 W. Wilkie Fables 120:
A Partan creepin on a lee, . . . A squunt-wise wambling.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 32:
I'se gar you wammel hame an' a' your wate coats about you.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 23:
Diel tak Italian strums, Stuff, till't I canna wamble.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 98:
Tho' maybe his legs mayna wamble sae clever.
Ayr. 1828 D. Wood Poems 53:
But in a wee some cursed pirn Does me entangle . . . Then o'er I wamble.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 63:
To see you waumlin' i' the gutter.
Ags. 1882 J. M. Beatts Reminisc. 27:
During the early scenes he managed to wamble through the part.
Abd. 1912 Buchan Ass. Mag. (Jan.) 2:
His head began to bizz and his legs to wammle.
Rs. 1944 C. M. Maclean Farewell to Tharrus 59:
In a lost or waimbling kind of way, as if he were confused and at his wits' end.
Abd. 1946 J. C. Milne Orra Loon 22:
Wamlin' on the canvas, Tyauvin' wi' his breeks.

4. To move unsteadily to and fro in the air, to sway, shake, flap, dangle, waggle, wave (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 274; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 193:
That Lawland Carlin gangs like a man, See how her coats wamels again.
Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottager 180:
Let grief an' care, Be by the neck strung in a tow, To wam'le there.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick II. vii.:
Her twa arms wamblin' i' the air as they war' a pair o' ling fish hung out tae dry i' the wun'.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xxxii.:
The creature was so drunk, that he wamblet to and fro over the drum, as if there had not been a bane in his body. He was seemingly as soople and as senseless as a bolster.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 118:
I mounted the machine [tricycle] an' yont the toon I waumled.
Gall. 1902 Crockett Dark o' Moon v.:
A dwarf, with long arms that wambled from side to side as he hirpled about the house.

5. Transf. of the mental processes or feelings: intr. of thoughts: to creep or insinuate themselves into the mind, to go round and round in one's head; tr. to revolve in one's mind, to ponder, to think about. Also with through.Sc. 1726 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 198:
I'll not ae fancy tine that wamles warmly in my Pow.
Sc. 1756 J. Fleming Robert Adam (1962) 212:
I thought for half-an-hour, wambling within me the most green-eyed ideas.
Sc. a.1811 Court of Session Garland (1871) 106:
“I'll mak' it wimble wamble in my wame,” then turning to the Clerk of the Court, he exclaimed, “Avizandum.”
Abd. 1882 T. Mair John o' Arnha's Latter-day Exploits 53:
Some spirit wamlin' in his breist.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 45:
It wammel'd to my mind yestreen.
Edb. 1897 W. Beaty Secretar x.:
Things were said that before had only wambled in their minds.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 196:
Aye the spell o' 'er shimmerin' face Cam' wam'lin' through my heid.

6. tr. In gen., to revolve, to roll, to turn over and over; to twist, to tangle (Ork., Ags. 1973); to wind about, coil. Also in n.Eng. dial.Abd. 1886 J. Cowe Jeems Sim 13.:
I waml't it a meenit i' the back o' my throat an' syne lat it owre wi' a gulp.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 231:
A pipe that gied wamlin' in an' oot.
Abd. 1958 People's Jnl. (29 Nov.):
Sheep takin' ben the road trail't oot hedge clippin's — an' a young leddy oot for a stroll got wam'let up amon' 'em.
Ags. 1970:
The worset's aa wommled.

II. n. 1. A rolling or churning of the stomach, queasiness, a feeling of sickness (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1973). Also in Eng. dial. Adj. wammlie, queasy (Fif. 1958).Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (11 Jan.) 5:
A feelin' gaed a' thro my stammack as if I hed taen a wammel.

2. In gen.: a rolling or unsteady motion, a totter, a quivering or shaking, a wriggle, a tumble (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Ork., ne.Sc. 1973). Also in Eng. dial. For 1916 quot. cf. Eng. dial. on the wamble, staggering from drunkenness. Adj. wambly, wammily, tottery, weak, feeble (ne.Sc., Slg., Fif., wm.Sc. 1973).Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 7:
Knight's Quarterly Magazine gied a wamle ower the counter in the dead-thraws.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 207:
He ga' a waumle or twa, an' wan oot amo' ma han's.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xi.:
I was still so wambly on my legs that I cowped upon the top of him.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 254:
There's no eneuch life in yer sermons, minister — nae grup, so to speak, kind o' wambly and cauldrife.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 22:
A puir wammily-lookin' cratur.
Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxiii. 33:
A' the time, in yer drucken wammle, Ye'll be bletherin to yersel.
Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite 169:
The wamble of their eyes and hands.
ne.Sc. 1953 Mearns Leader (9 Oct.):
The weet an' slippery fish slithert oot o's airms wi' a waumle o't's tail.

3. ? A feeble puny person. Cf. wamlin under I. 4. 1914 G. Greig Folk-Song xcvii.:
Ye've ranged the meadow roon, And ye've found the wamble in the hineren'.

III. adv. With a writhing or undulating motion (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 207; ne.Sc. 1973).

[O.Sc. wamble, to be queasy, wambling, nausea, 1456, wamble, to totter, 1620, Mid.Eng. wamel, to be sick, womble, to wriggle, writhe. Poss. of Scand. orig. Cf. Dan. vamle, to feel sick, phs. cogn. with Norw. dial. vamra, to stagger or stumble about, and the root of vomit.]

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"Wammle v., n., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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