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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

DOTTLE, n.1 and v.1 Also dottel, dottal.

I. n.

1. A stopper or plug (Sh.11 1949).Sc. 1743 R. Maxwell Select Trans. Agric. 284:
Have a tub, with a small hole in the bottom of it, wherein put a cork or dottle in the under end.

2. A particle, a jot (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Slg., e.Lth. 1949 (per Ayr.9)); applied in gen. to anything small, e.g. sheep's droppings (Dmf. 1950 (per Fif.17)); cf. Doddle, n., 1.Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 207:
Thy list of sages I did note all . . . Who have declared not worth a dottle Is man's old faith!
Ayr.5 1928:
A dinna care a dottle.
Ayr.9 1949:
Put a wee dottle of icing on the cake.
Ant. 1892 Ballymena Obs. (E.D.D.):
The dropping of some of the smaller domestic animals would be called a dottle.

3. The plug of half-burnt tobacco left at the bottom of a pipe after smoking (Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 224, dottal; Ags. 1896 J. Barrie Sentimental Tommy xxxiii., dottel; Fif., Lth. 1825 Jam.2; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 180). Now accepted as St.Eng.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 242:
A weel-filled pipe, stuck in my face, Is the thing to keep me cheerie. So spread the dottle lichtly on, And kin'le't saft and gently.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller vi.:
That's heard half-choakt in her husky throttle While swallowing dram, or smoking dottle.
wm.Sc. 1965 Alan Sharp A Green Tree in Gedde (1985) 178:
Here they were, while the tea curved to the cup, while the dottle fell from the pipe.
Lnk. 1948 J. G. Johnston Come fish with me 165:
Never knock oot yer dottle until ye hae felt in yer pocket to mak' sure that ye hae brought yer tobacco wi' ye.

4. A cigarette end (Bnff.2 1940; Fif. 1950 (per Fif.14); Ayr.4 1928; Ayr.9 1949).

5. The core of a boil (Abd.2, Fif.10 1940; Ayr. 1905 E.D.D. Suppl.; Ayr.4 1928); see also quot.Fif. 1899 P. Phil. Soc. Gsw. XXXI. 40:
A dottle . . . is any stringy tenacious substance, as for example the debris of a boil or the membrane of diphtheria.

6. The cut-off top of a boiled egg (Abd.9 1940; Edb.3 1929).

7. A small, loose-looking bundle (Abd.9 1940).Abd.4 1928:
A dottle o' strae.

II. v. To stop or plug up (Sh.11 1949).

[Dim. of dot, a small lump or spot: O.E. dot, = 5; Mid.Eng. dot, = 1. Cf. Norw. dott, a wisp, plug.]

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"Dottle n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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