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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

FORL, n. Also forle, and dim. form forlie. nn. and ne.Sc. forms of whorl.

1. The small perforated stone fly-wheel of a spindle, extended to apply to any perforated stone thought to be used by the fairies, and hence to any rare or precious object. Cf. etherstane, s.v. Ether, n.2, 2. See P.L.D. § 158. Comb. forle-bane, the hip-bone or joint (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 53). Cf. Whorle-bane.Sc. c.1805 The Beggar-Laddie in Child Ballads No. 280 A. ii.:
Spindels an forls it is my trade, An bits of sticks to them who nead.
Mry. 1889 T. L. Mason Rafford 32:
For this ane's rinnin', an' the neist ane's fleein', as if they waur gaun tae fin' a forl.
Cai. 1900 E.D.D.:
The forls are stone rings about 1½ inches in external diameter and ½ inch internal. They were about ½ inch thick, and sometimes carved.
Abd. Ib.:
Forlies were perforated round stones put upon the spindle to make it revolve.
Cai. 1921 Old-Lore Misc. ix. i. 19:
The symptoms of “elfshot” were a languid appearance, hard breathing, and disinclination to take food. The skilly man professed to find holes in the underskin, which they sought for very diligently. The supposed marks were rubbed with “forls” or “elf stones” or “soap stones.”

2. A small wheel (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 52, forle); a pulley (Abd.7 1925).

3. Phr.: a forl roun the meen, a halo round the moon, indicating the approach of bad weather, a Broch, n.1, 3. (Abd. 1951).

[O.Sc. forl, = 1., (ne.Sc.) 1547.]

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"Forl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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