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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).

WEEL, n.1 Also wele (Gall. 1930 H. Maxwell Place-Names 43), weil, wiel, weal; wheel (Ayr. 1848 A. McKay Hist. Kilmarnock (1864) 302; Slk. 1891 A. Lang Angling Sk. 128). A deep pool in a stream or river; an eddy, whirlpool (Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson). Freq. in place-names. Also in n.Eng. dial. The first quot. may however be a mistake for well. [wil]Abd. 1723 W. Macfarlane Geog. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 93:
The weel of Ithain being three christall springs.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween xxv.:
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays; Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 150:
When I cam on to the craigs at the weil o' Pool-Midnight.
s.Sc. 1825 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) IX. 87:
Swirls or eddies in the Tweed are called “weels.”
Sc. 1825 Rare Willie in Child Ballads (1956) IV. 182:
In the deepest weil in a' the burn.
Per. 1842 R. Nicoll Poems 13:
While frozen was the wiel In ilka burn.
Ayr. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 V. 743:
There has been a considerable loss of life in the Ayr, owing to the darkness of its waters concealing . . . deep places, with which the river abounds, termed in the provincial dialect “Weels”, almost every “Weel” bearing the name of some person who has perished in it.
Wgt. 1896 66th Report Brit. Ass. 614:
He took out the two millstones and threw them into the weal below the bridge over the Bladnach.
Sc. 1901 H. Wallace Greatest of These 55:
A boundless depression, like the “weil” that dimples the surface of a deep pool.
Rxb. 1909 Jedburgh Gaz. (28 May) 3:
A large, deep pool known as the ‘Old Weal'.
Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 24:
An' doon the howe as rantin' rins Wi' swirlin' wiel the wimplin' rill.

Used attrib. in combs. (1) weel (water)-fishing, salmon-fishing in a river pool; (2) weil-heid, an eddy, whirlpool.(1) Abd. 1762 Abd. Journal (22 Nov.):
There is to be set to the highest Bidder, the Garth and Weel-Fishings upon the Water of Dee, belonging to Pitfoddles.
Abd. 1777 Abd. Journal (30 June):
To be set and entered to at the Term of Andersmas next, 1777, Two Fishings on the River Dee, called the Garth and Weelwater Fishings.
(2) Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy (1869) 361:
They douked in at ae weil-heid, And out aye at the other.

[O.Sc. weill, c.1500, wele, 1513, O.E. wǣl, a pool.]

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"Weel n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Sep 2022 <>



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