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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FARL, n., v. Also †farle, faarl, far(r)el, faurl; ferle (s.Sc.).

I. n. A three-cornered piece of oatcake, the fourth part of a Bannock (Bnff., Edb., Gsw., Ayr. 2000s); Gen.Sc., but obsol. in north. Also applied to flour scones (Ags., Ayr., Uls. 1950), morning rolls (Per.4 1950), shortbread (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., ferle, farle), etc. Often in phrs. farl o' cake, farl o' scone, etc. (Gall. 1950).Sc. a.1706 in J. Watson Choice Coll.i. 10:
There will be good lapper'd milk Kebucks, And Sowens and Farles, and Baps.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 57:
Then let his wisdom girn an' snarl O'er a weel-tostit girdle farl.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair vii.:
Wi' sweet-milk cheese, in monie a whang, An farls bak'd wi' butter.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 43:
Wha maisters want are unco douce, An' hae few ginge'bread farls.
Sc. 1830 Scott Leg. Montrose iii.:
I have tasted no food since daybreak but a farl of oat-cake.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 98:
Heat burstan bread an' faarls.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xix.:
They had to patch up a meal of cold sowens with a farl of rye-bread thrown in.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 70:
There's a farl o' scones on the girdle . . . When I win to my chimla cheek.
Uls. c.1916 S. S. McCurry Ballads of Ballytumulty 33:
How to harn the oaten farls That wudn't crack in two.
Crm. 1933 D. A. Mackenzie Stroopie Well 3:
In the old days bannocks were baked in circular shape, and the sign of the cross was cut. The four portions thus formed were called “farls”. When these were thoroughly fired, they were placed on the “cheeks” of the fire-place. It was unlucky to count the farls.
m.Sc. 1939 James Barke The Land of the Leal (1987) 46:
So off she went at eight o'clock with two farrels of dry oatcake in her bag for lunch.
wm.Sc. 1980 Anna Blair The Rowan on the Ridge 29:
He thanked them all, then sent Will and John home to help their mother and Maggie dispense farls and ale to those who had come a distance.
Gsw. 1994 Alasdair Gray A History Maker 126:
"Lassies," he said plaintively, "I'm hungry. My wame thinks my throat's cut."
They brought him powsoudie, drummock, kebbuck and farle. He ate it and dressed.

II. v. To provide with, feed on farls. Only in ppl.adj. farled.Fif. 1845 T. C. Latto Minister's Kail-yard 11:
The saftest gliders thro' the warld Are ne'er owre nice an' dainty farl'd.

[A reduced form of Fardel, q.v.]

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"Farl n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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