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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HANDLIN(G), vbl.n. Also hanlin(g); haun(d)lin; haandling (Sh. 1902 E.D.D.).

Sc. usages:

1. A transaction, business, job in hand, task, undertaking; a share in some affair, an intermeddling; hence specif. a difficult task, a “handful” (Abd., Ags., m.Lth., Ayr., Gall., Dmf. 1956).Sc. 1720 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 524:
You may guess what throng I have of letters by the few you sent me, which are little to my handling here.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
He wad fain hae a handling in that affair.
Ayr. c.1827 Galt Howdie (1923) 5:
It began to grow into a fashion that the genteeler order of ladies went into the towns to have their han'lings amang the doctors.
Sc. 1846 C. Johnstone Edb. Tales II. 333:
The old Scotswoman . . . lent her aid . . . from motives of kindness and the desire of obliging, not much alloyed by the love of what her countrywomen term a “handling”
Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket 276:
I nevir hade sic a hanlin for ther's maist aye ane o' them greetin.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet iv.:
Me wi' the care o' yer gran'faither — sic a handling, him nae better nor a bairn.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 23:
You've keepit me frae grace, and a sair haundlin' you've been to me a' thae years.
Abd. 1923 H. Beaton Benachie 128:
The neighbours they were socht owre by Ta ha'e a han'lin' in the pie.
Dmf. 1954:
The minister of Tynron went miles up the glen to baptise a baby, and word got about the neighbours and he finished up by baptising five at one go. On the way home the car driver said “By, that was a guid handlin.”
Abd. 1955 Huntly Express (4 Feb.):
Shrewd, progressive and enterprising, he had what the farming community call, “A big han'lin'.”
Uls. 1993:
It was some handlin with 60 guests to feed.

2. A rounding up, penning of sheep for some special purpose, e.g. dipping, shearing, etc. (Peb., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc. 1956). Also attrib.Kcb. 1883 G. Murray Sarah Rae 47:
Our herds with skill the fat [sheep] must wale, And sort the slack for sale; When brown's the bracken on the brae What handlins then we hail!
Dmf. 1925 Scottish Farmer (24 Jan.):
In gathering the sheep for handlings early morning is best.
Hebr. 1937 J. MacDonald Highland Ponies 128:
When it came to sheep handlings, it was only men who were thoroughly used to sheep who were asked.
Sc. 1954 Scotsman (17 Dec.):
The employer supplies meat for men at handlings, dippings, and clippings up to 3 main meals per day.
n.Sc. 1954 Scotland's Mag. (March) 26:
A strategically situated fank or handling pen in the glen below.

3. An entertainment, meeting, party, social gathering, merry-making (Kcb.3 1929). Comb. tea-handling, a tea-party (w.Sc. 1887 Jam.).Ayr. 1821 Galt Ayr. Legatees viii.:
We are providing for a handling.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 104:
It has been the custom . . . to hold merry-meetings in one another's houses during the New-Year holidays, which meetings are generally designated “New'r-day haunlins.”
wm.Sc. 1888 Anon. Archie Macnab 55:
Catch the Morrisons encouragin' oor John to their tea-parties an' haunlins.
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 329:
I had only been yinst in her house since she settled, and that was at a promiscuous tea handling.

4. A discussion, altercation or quarrel (w.Sc. 1887 Jam.); “a disturbance, an unnecessary annoyance” (n.Ant. 1924 North. Whig (14 Jan.)).

5. “Abundance, store, fulness” (Abd. 1825 Jam.).

6. A pit in a tannery, containing a weak solution of tannin in which hides were handled, = Eng. handler.Sc. 1763 Caled. Mercury (13 June) 284:
A Parcel of Leather, some of it finished, some of it in different layers in the pits, and some in the hanlins.
Sc. 1777 Caled. Mercury (4 Oct.):
That convenient Tan-yard . . . consisting of four lime and water pits, 13 vats and handlings, two baits under shade.

7. An experience of a serious or unpleasant nature, an ordeal (Ork., Ags. 1975). Ayr. 1886 J. Meikle The Lintie 186:
A lass that cam' safely through a sair hanlin' wi' Mrs Cameron.

[From Handle, v. O.Sc. has handlin(g), in various senses from mid 15th c.]

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"Handlin vbl. n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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