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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DELL, Del, v. To delve, to dig (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl., del; Ork.1, Cai.7 1940; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.2, Abd.19 1940; Bch. 1891 J. Forrest in Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 13).Sh. 1922 J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 127:
Troth I ken doo's hed a ill day, Sibbie, I ken ower weel what he is ta dell oot snaw'd sheep.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 105:
He loots like ane that clods is mellan An' hoges [jerks] like a bothy dellan'.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 180:
It would frichen your faither and your grandfaither delling wi their spades. It frichens me.
Bnff. 1917 E. S. Rae Poems 13:
There's trees tae fell, an' neuks tae del', an' neeps tae fin' an' ca'.
Abd. 1750 An Abd. Estate (S.C. 1946) 123:
To 2 men all day delling at the corners in Toth Fold . . . 0. 8. 0.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 255:
Ye can tak a spaad and gyang ootside and del neuks if ye like.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 35:
Nae aix rings shairp on the bark o a splittin log,
Nae lauchin bairns teet oot frae a rosity pine,
Nae fusslin faither dells in the girse-choked yaird -
The human tenantry flitted awa langsyne.

Hence delling team (see quot.).Sh. 1939 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Sh. 59:
I have seen one of the last of the “delling teams” working, and the process . . . is exactly the same as described ninety years ago: — “Three or four or five persons turn over the ground . . .; . . . they commonly turn it over down hill, so that the earth falls from the spade very easily. And the consequence is that at the bottom of every plot of ground or ridge, the earth, and always the best, has accumulated to a considerable depth.”

[For loss of v, see P.L.D. § 70.3.]

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"Dell v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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