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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BOLE, BOAL, Boll, n.1 Also Bolie (dim.), bowel[bol]

1. A small recess or cupboard in the wall of an apartment. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 229:
Bring frae yon Boal a roasted Hen.
Bnff.5 1926:
Boal or bole, a hole in the wall by the fireplace for little odds and ends.
Bch. 1914 J. Leatham Daavit 94:
“Heely, heely, man,” said I, “there's twa books in the bole o' the wa' in ilka Aiberdeenshire hoose, an' een o' them's the Haly Bible an' the ither's ‘Johnny Gibb o' Gushetneuk'!”
Peb. 1793 Carlop Green, Peggy's Myll (ed. R. D. C. Brown 1832) lxxxvi.:
Sche hurries ben to her ayn boal.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Weary Pund o' Tow (Cent. ed.) ii.:
There sat a bottle in a bole Beyont the ingle low.
w.Dmf. 1899 J. Shaw Country Schoolmaster 368:
Next your richt hand there's the bole Fu' o' serious books and droll.

2. A small opening in the wall of a building of any kind, usually provided with a wooden shutter instead of glass; a pay-box window (Ags., w.Lth. 1975). Also boley-window (Ags., Edb. 2000s). Dim. bolieSc. 1816 Scott Antiquary (1818) iii.:
Open the bole wi' speed, that I may see if this be the right Lord Geraldin.
Crm. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 127:
The walls, naked and uneven, were hollowed in several places into little square recesses, termed bowels.
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xv.; Ags.1 1935:
If ye pet your nose in aboot ony bolies harkenin', you'll mibby get the wecht o' a bissam shaft on the end o't.
Ags. 1945 Forfar Dispatch (9 Aug.):
Twa bob the mannie at the bolie socht.
Ags. 1993 Mary McIntosh in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 112:
He skinkit his muckle-baned corpus intae the bolie o the bit waa that wis aye staunin, machine gun hauden ticht.
Dundee 1987 Norman Lynn Row Laddie Sixty Years On 34:
... who sat beside her wee boley window like Queen Victoria, and didn't look in the least amused.
m.Lth. 1793 G. Robertson Agric. of Midlothian 33 Foot-note:
An additional light to that of the chimney, from a slit or bole in the wall, made up the whole architecture of the building.
Ayr. 1992:
Boal - a hatch; a pay window (in factory); a ticket window (eg at railway station).
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) VI. 97:
“Callant Peter, gang an' stap a wisp i' that bole,” said Pate: “it seems to be the beacon light to a' the clanjaumphry i' the hale country.”
Dmf. a.1748 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 482:
Noticing a bowell in the wall at the back of a bed which had not been opened for some ages.

3. With extended meanings.

(1) A boy's wardrobe.Edb. 1898 J. Baillie Walter Crighton 170:
The bell . . . sent the boys scampering up to the bolls to change their clothing.

(2) An opening in the hills.Sc. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 I. 180–181:
The ordinary command given to those who are sent out to obtain such information [regarding weather] is, “Go see how the bole of Borthwick looks.” This, however, arises not from our climate being more subject to rain than that of the level country — but from the peculiar configuration of our glen — which apparently stretches considerably backwards among the lower hills, as seen from a distance.

(3) A hole, aperture, outlet in gen. m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 294:
There's mony a bole the sparks o' life are chirtit oot by.

4. Combs.: (1) bee-bole, see Bee, n.1; (2) bole-hole, “air hole in wall of barn or stable; a square hole in the wa' near the fire, where the salt box is kept” (w.Dmf. 1925 W. A. Scott Vern. of Mid-Nithsdale in Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 18; Ayr 2000s); (3) boley-hole, a small space for odds and ends (Fif. 1957; Peb., Ayr. 2000s); (4) charter bole, a bole provided for in a feu-charter, which normally prescribes the middle line of a wall as a boundary but may expressly permit a recess on one side or the other to go deeper. Such boles are often founded on to prove that a wall is mutual. (2)Ayr. 1992:
Boal(-hole) - a hen hutch opening (big enough to let them out & in)
(3)Abd. 2005:
I'll not need this for a while so I'll just throw it in the boley-hole.
Kcb., Dmf. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
bole, boley hole 1. a space for stowing junk.
(4)Ayr. 1844 Ayr & Wallacetown Free Church Records MS. (26 Aug.):
Miss Hutchison's property on the same side had two Charter boles seemingly giving right to the half of the wall tho' built upon the Church property.

[O.Sc. bowall, bowel, bewell, boill, boal, a recess in the wall (D.O.S.T.). Origin obscure.]

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"Bole ". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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