Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

HIRPLE, v., n. Also hirpel (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), herple (Uls. 1924 W. Lutton Montiaghisms 25). [′hɪrp(ə)l]

I. v. 1. intr. To walk slowly and painfully or with a limp, to hobble; to move unevenly, as a hare. Gen.Sc. Also used fig. Found also in Eng. dials. Ppl.adj. hirplin, limping, lame.Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 199:
He hirpled round to all the company, and wished them good-night.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 149:
When I the men at work espie, I'll hirple to the house.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 167:
Great feck gae hirpling hame like fools, The cripple lead the blind.
Ayr. 1785 Burns Holy Fair i.:
The hares were hirplan down the furrs.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 25:
Forth frae the whinny brae the maukin steals, Wi' hirplin step.
Sc. 1816 Scott B. Dwarf iii.:
God! she's in nae hurry . . . She hirples like a hen on a het girdle.
Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton I. ii. i.:
Up comes a decent, little auld manny, . . . riding on a bit broken-kneed hirplin beast of a Heeland powney.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig iii.:
Old Winter is hirplin' awa'.
Uls. 1897 A. M'Ilroy Lint in the Bell viii.:
Dannie would hirple into Andy's kitchen (he was a little lame).
Sh. 1906 T. P. Ollason Spindrift 114:
Another old woman, luggin' a teapot, hirpled into the room.
Rxb. 1912 Jedburgh Gazette (19 July) 3:
Maist o' them knock-neiy'd an splae-fitted, an' a' hirplin' an' limpin' as if they had a corn on every tae.
Kcd. 1934 L. G. Gibbon Grey Granite iv.. 230:
Change that went on as a hirpling clock, with only benediction to ring at the end.
Arg. 1952 N. Mitchison Lobsters on the Agenda vi.:
I've seen him often enough hirplin' round, him and his stick.
wm.Sc. 1954 Robin Jenkins The Thistle and the Grail (1994) 197:
"I promised Tinto Broon to keep him in touch," he panted, and hirpled away.
wm.Sc. 1965 Alan Sharp A Green Tree in Gedde (1985) 333:
And at night? What about at night. Did a small hunchback man hirple between the mooncast buildings, ...
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 69:
Words arena horses, nor auld men
hirplin, hoastin, tuim o virr.
Sc. 1989 Scotsman 14 Jun 11:
After all, once that short-lived unity over rational progress towards our own state had been destroyed what was left apart from an intensifying struggle between two hirpling lunatics trying to smash the other's crutches?
m.Sc. 1991 Tom Scott in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 40:
... they saw the wuiden-leggit, hauf-deid man
Hirplan ashore, haulan at the line
Sc. 1991 Scotsman 9 Mar 11:
They wanted to hear that "Scottish identity" was on the mend, and hirpling in the right direction.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 177:
Will's old bick, her belly almost trailing on the road, hirpled to meet the visitor.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 3:
Ah, bit the meenister hidna seen (or mebbe he hid but chuse nae tae notice) auld Bunty Strachan hirplin up an doon stairs frae her mither's bedroom ...
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 102:
She was in her late fifties, but her face was sorely lined and she had a hirpling kind of walk and an almost permanently skeerie expression as though she was expecting a hit at any moment.

Combs. and deriv.: (1) hirple-Dick, -dird, n., a halt or limping person (Cai., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1957). Cf. Cripple Dick s.v. Cripple; (2) hirple Doddie, id. (Abd.31 1957). Cf. (4); (3) hirplock, n.dim., id. (Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems Gl.; w.Sc. 1825 Jam.); (4) to hirple-daud, -dird, to walk with a pronounced limp (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., Add., -dird; Abd.7 1925, -daud). See Daud, Dird.(1) Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxiv.:
I'm but a hirple Dick, an' it maitters little aboot me.
Bnff.2 c.1928:
Come awa, hirple-dird; ye're takkin' yir ain time till't.

2. tr. To cripple or hamper (some project).Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 259:
They are never meant to hurt or hirple the open dealings, or control the enterpreeze, o' weel-daein', gude-payin', sensible, honest men.

II. n. A limp, the act of walking with a limp or unsteadily (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 226). Gen.Sc.Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 131:
Wi' hirple and whost, frae ingle-side.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd vii. i.:
Whose gallop was never better than a hirple.
Sc. 1856 Cockburn Memorials 119:
With a slow stealthy step — something between a walk and a hirple.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses xii.:
Lightening the dulness of the walk by slyly mocking the cripple's “hirple”.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 24:
Willie halted his hirple towards the door.

[Found in O.Sc. from c.1470. Phs. an emphatic altered freq. form of E.Mid.Eng. hyppe, to hop (see Hip, v.), imit. of a slower, more laboured movement. Cf. note to Hipple.]

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

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



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: