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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

DRIFFLE, v., n. Also dreefle.

1. v.

(1) To drizzle, to rain or snow slightly (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 185; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); also used with on (Slk. 1825 Jam.2).Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 19:
The daggy drowe comes drifflin on.

(2) To scold (Bnff.2 1940; Abd.24 1916, dreefle; Abd.9 1940, driffle; Ags.1 1920, dreefle). Vbl.n. drifflin'.Abd. 1898 J. R. Imray Sandy Todd 3:
I catcht him at the same trick ae day afore, an' gaed him a terrible drifflin'.
Bch. 1929 (per Abd.1):
Dyod, lassie, ye'll get a gey drifflin' for brakin' that auld jug.

2. n.

(1) (a) A slight shower of rain or snow (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Slk. 1825 Jam.2; Dmf. 1950); (b) a short spell of stormy weather (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 42), a gale (Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940).(a) Sc. 1931 J. Buchanan in Sc. Ed. Jnl. (18 Dec.):
. . . the win' blaws caul' an' keen Wi' driffles noo an' then o' snaw.
(b) Bch. 1929 (per Abd.1):
There'll be a driffle of wind oot o' that black bunkart o' clood.

(2) (a) A quantity of work done with speed (Bnff.2 1940).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 42:
He's gehn through a gueede driffle o' wark the last day or twa.

(b) Haste, speed.Abd.7 1925:
When work is done with great speed, it is said to have been “caa'd throu' wi' a gey driffle.”

(3) A scolding (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 42; Bnff.2, Abd.2 1940; Ags.1 1920); rough handling.Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 67:
Nae wonder, then, she wasna fain To let a chiel gi'e her a driffle, For fear he'd brak' her pipit bords, And cockernonny a' curfuffle.
Abd. 1924 Swatches 46:
The hens fyles got a driffle tee Fin ye wis keen.
Abd.15 1928:
A got a gey driffle for daein yon!

[A deriv. in -le from *drif-, to drive, with freq. or dim. force. For sense (1) of n. and v. cf. O.Sc. driffling, a drizzle, 1639, E.M.E. drifle, to dribble, Driv, and Norw. dial. drivla, to drizzle.]

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"Driffle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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