Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

GURL, v.1, adj., n. Also †gurrl(l), †gurle.

I. v. 1. To growl as a dog (ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth., Lnk., Ayr., Kcb., s.Sc. 1955), to grumble, snarl. Rarely tr. Also fig. Since 16th c. in Eng. dial. only.Ayr. 1817 in Mem. Curl. Mab. (Broun 1830) 81:
Let rogues and let fools rin to cards and to dice, And gamblin', sit girnin and gurlin.
Sc. 1835 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1864) IV. 260:
I loupt out on my mither the Lioness, and in a mock-fecht we twa gaed gurlin doun the brae.
Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie II. xviii.:
I heard the innkeeper's dog gurling last nicht.
Lnk. 1922 T. S. Cairncross Scot at Hame 11:
He whaisled there Wi' auld-warl' words aye haverin' sair, Gurlin' them oot.

2. Of the wind: to roar, howl (m.Lth., Bwk., Ayr. 1955). Also in Nhb. dial.Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 61:
Weel may ye mind, yon night sae black, Whan fearfu' winds loud gurl'd.
Gsw. 1844 Sc. Song (Whitelaw) 6:
Though gurlin' wuns may blaely blaw; Our rousin' fire will thow The straggler's taes.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Merry Men ii.:
A fine gaun breeze upon the water, but no steedy; an' . . . anither wund gurlin' owerheid.
Ayr. 1955 S. T. Ross Bairnsangs 10:
A Wund cam gurlin thro' the toun.

3. (1) Of water: to gurgle, purl (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth., Rxb. 1955). The 1934 quot. appears to be an extended meaning of this by transference of usage from sound to appearance, hence to quiver, shimmer; (2) of an infant: to crow, to make a gurgling or cooing noise (Abd. 1900 E.D.D.).(1) Edb. 1884 Mod. Sc. Poets IX. 70:
An' aye it [the burnie] guttered, an' gurled, an' clang, An' yattered, an' yammered, an' chirled alang.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 7:
Yeh bit sate on the kei-stane o the brig; yeh deek at the gurlin Yill: an A hoyed strecht for the “clachan.”
Bnff. 1927 Banffshire Jnl. (10 May):
I lo'e the bonnie gur'lin' stream that prees the sweet blue bell.
Kcd. 1934 “L. G. Gibbon” Grey Granite iv. 286:
She'd open her eyes and see only . . . the summer hills gurling in summer heat.

4. By extension: to flatter. Hence gurly adj., flattering, deceitful (Abd. 1900 E.D.D.).Abd. 1900 E.D.D.:
None o' yer gurlin' noo.

II. adj. 1. Of the weather, wind, landscape: stormy, boisterous, wild; forbidding (m.Lth. 1955).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 132:
When Northern Blasts the Ocean Snurl, And gars the Heights and Hows look Gurl.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 79:
An' frae the north the wind fu' gurl, Cam snell and keen.

2. Of persons: surly, grumbling, brusque (Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 41; Dmf. 1955).Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 72:
Ay ilka thing to scrimp an' hain, Nae pleasure gi'es — gars sigh an' grane; Makes gurl an' crabit.
Sc. 1846 Anon. Muckomachy 50:
Ilk ane was very Gurl and camstary.
m.Sc. 1926 “O. Douglas” Proper Place xx.:
An' he sterted an' pu'ed down the winday — she keeps the windays shut for fear o' dust comin' in — an' he was that gurrl aboot it that he broke a cheeny ornament.

III. n. 1. A growl, a snarl (ne.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth., Ayr., Kcb., Dmf., Rxb. 1955). Also fig.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 165:
The carle gave such a gurll as made me jump.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 102:
Poor starvin' dogs, Glowre fierce, wi' hungry gurle.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. xv.:
A gurl of rage, like the first brush of the tempest on the waves, passed over the whole extent of Scotland.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms lix. 7:
Tak tent, what a gurl's i' their gab.

2. A strong wind, a squall (Ork. 1929 Marw.; ‡Sh. 1955); boisterous weather.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 263:
Being at Borgue kirk one windy day, while coming over the kirk-stile . . . a gurl came . . . and away went the [umbrella].
Clc. 1860 J. Crawford Doric Lays 81:
The puir bieldless body has scougg't the cauld blast, 'Yont our hallan he's houf't till the gurl gaed past.

3. (1) A gurgling or purling sound (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth., Rxb. 1955); (2) a narrow place in a stream between rocks from which the water rushes with a gurgling sound (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.); (3) in comb.: gurl(e)-hole, a small boggy pool.(1) Ayr. 1868 J. K. Hunter Artist's Life xxvii.:
Can you pronounce velhurr? make a gurl at the last syllable.
Sc. 1934 Scotsman (21 July) 15:
But there are many notes in whaup music . . . the full call, beginning with the low, quiet tones, but gradually bursting into the glamorous gurl which literally fills the glen.
(3) Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 133:
Jock Wardlaw's mare Is lair'd i' the Gurle-hole.

[Echoic in origin. Cf. Gurr. The v. appears first in Mid.Eng. c.1380; the n. appears once in Eng. 1755; the adj. is exclusively Sc., being recorded once in O.Sc. = cold and stormy, 1513.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

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



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: