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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.

GANGREL, n. Also gangeral, -el, gangretl, †gangril(l); gyang(e)rel, -al (n.Sc.). Often used attrib. [′gɑŋ(ə)rəl Sc., n.Sc. + gjɑŋ(ə)rəl]

1. (1) A tramp, vagrant, vagabond (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1825 Jam.), freq. attrib. as in gangrel body. Gen.(exc. I.)Sc., obsol. Also in n.Eng. dial.Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' xxxvii.:
There's mony sturdy gangril chiel That might be winnin meat fu' well, And claes an a'.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Jolly Beggars Recit. i.:
Ae night at e'en, a merry core O' randie, gangrel bodies In Poosie-Nansie's held the splore.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. iii.:
He's nae gentleman . . . wad grudge twa gangrel puir bodies the shelter o' a waste house.
Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays & Lyrics 24:
The Gangerel, on his timmer pegs, Wha, through the day, for aumos begs.
Gsw. 1884 H. Johnston Martha Spreull iv.:
Hoose-holders have plenty to do keepin' up greedy paupers . . . let-a-be gien' charity to gangerals and ither necessitous folk.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods (1895) 137:
A while shut in my gangrel feet An' goavin' mettle.
Dmf. 1914 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo x.:
A gangrel body sell't it to me for sixteen shillings.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xi.:
There was a gangrel body sleepit ae nicht in the loft.
Bnff. 1936 Abd. Univ. Review (March) 115:
I pit it til a gangrel wife, her pyock upon her back, An' “Life's a shortsome thing,” quo' she, “the meanin' doesna mak'.”
Uls. 1987 Sam Hanna Bell Across the Narrow Sea 24:
'Awa wi' ye, ye gangrel, and let honest folk by,' added his son.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 42:
Becky, at the age of twenty-two, ran off with a gangrel band of gipsy-tinks who were considered by the players to be a Scots mile wilder and less sober than they were themselves.
Ayr. 1991 Jim Kay in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 74:
The land is made a wizened witch,
A gangrel castaway fae Europe,
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 91:
Nou braks the incaain o a trumpet:
shenachy; warlock, wabbin frae's ain sowl
the dumfounerin sang.
Gangrel in a caller airt
Gsw. 1994 Alasdair Gray A History Maker 53:
" ... I want us to ride far far to the north where the homes are few and the commons so mountainy that even gangrels seldom pass through. ... "

(2)  Attrib. wandering.Sc. 1999 Scottish Book Collector Vol. 6 No. 3 29:
There is a joy in Kenneth White which shines through all his work, a warmness in his tone of voice which is both endearing and inspiring. He is clearly someone who has worked on himself, an immensely cultured person whose gangrel erudition recognises no bounds to imaginative concern.

2. A child just able to walk, a toddler (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Bnff.7 1925; Cai.7, Abd. 1954). With toon = a young fellow (Cai.9 1946). This meaning seems to be confined to n.Sc.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 6:
When Helenore a gangrel now was grown, And had begun to toddle about the town.
Bnff. 1852 Bnffsh. Jnl. (2 March):
Lat gangrel bairns be toddlers' haul, An' the stalwart help the frail.
Abd. 1875 W. Alexander My Ain Folk 229:
She ought to have resumed the custody of her Bastard Geet, now a “gangrel bairn” of fully two years.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays (1908) 11:
I min' the little'n weel, A gyangrel at his mither's fit, When we were at the skweel.

Comb.: gangrill-gype, “a spoiled child” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.).

3. “Applied to . . . creeping vermin” (Sc. 1818 Sawers).

4. In pl.: appar. = poor trash. A misuse.Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 78:
Ye needna spread yer gangrels oot to tak' some hameless e'e — It's no a grate an' twa-three chairs 'll airt a man to ye.

[From Gang, v. + -rel, suff. O.Sc. has gangerall, gangrell, in sense 1., from 1530.]

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"Gangrel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2023 <>



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