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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CURL-DODDY, -DADDY, CURLIEDODDY, CURLY-, Kurldodi, n. comb. Also -doddie. Cf. Carl-doddie.

1. The devil's bit scabious, Succisa pratensis (Bwk. 1941 (per Slg.3); s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2, curlie-doddie; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., curly-doddy; e.Bord., Ir. 1886 B. and H., curl-, curly-; Tyr. 1929 (per Uls.2), curl-daddy; Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn., curl doddy).Fif. 1826 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 204:
In Fife, children thus address the stalk and flower of the scabius or devil's bit, which they call the curly-doddy: “Curly doddy, do my biddin', Soop my house, and shool my midden.”

2. The field scabious, Scabiosa arvensis (e.Bord. 1886 B. and H.; s.Sc. 1825 Jam.2; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1941 (per Lnk.11)).

3. The seed-bearing stem of the ribwort plantain, Plantago tanceolata (Fif.10 1941; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., curly-doddy).Fif. 1909 Colville 123:
The long seed-tipped stalk of this [ribwort] plantain, the “curly-doddy,” furnished a weapon for mimic cuts and slashes — in the effort to break off each his opponent's stalk.

4. The greater plantain, Plantago major (Frf. 1886 B. and H. 138).

5. Clover, applied both to zigzag (red) clover, Trifolium pratensis, which is called red curl(y)doddy (Ork. 1939 (per Cai.9), curly doddy) and white clover, Trifolium repens, or white curldoddy. Also transf. as a pet-name for a cow.Ork. 1806 P. Neill Tour Ork. and Sh. 41, Note:
Trifolium medium . . . known in Orkney and in various other parts of Scotland, by the whimsical name of Red Curldoddy, and Trifolium repens, called White Curldoddy.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 32:
The wice auld beasts . . .'ll rether champ Green curlydoddy.
Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 380: 
To think that some far away damsel should milk my bonnie curliedodie on the hillside.

6. Early purple orchis, O. mascula (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., kurldodi, 1947 E. S. R. Tait Sh. Folk-Bk. 80, curlie-doddie).

7. In pl.: “curled cabbage, Brassica oleracea var.” (Sc. 1808 Jam.).

8. “The lily, Lilium pomponium” (ne. Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

9. “The curled top of certain ferns of the genus Pteris when young” (Ib.).

10. The daisy, Bellis perennis (Dmf. 1884–96 S. Arnott in Garden-Work III. 112, curly-).

11. “The cone of a pine- or fir-tree” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.).

[The name seems generally to be applied to plants with a rounded flower head and is prob. curl or curly + Doddy, hornless, bald (primary sense “round-headed”). Curldodie, curledoddy, the ribwort plantain, is found in O.Sc. from c.1500 (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Curl-doddy n. comb.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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