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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.

JABBLE, v., n.2 Also jaible (Lnk., Ayr., Kcb. 1959), jebble (Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 30). Cf. Jibble. [dʒɑbl, dʒebl, dʒɛbl]

I. v. 1. tr. and intr. To agitate a liquid so as to cause spilling, to splash (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 60; Cld. 1880 Jam.; Ant. 1892 Ballymena Obs.; Mry.1 1925; Ork., Cai., Mry., Ags., Knr., m.Lth., Ayr., Gall., Uls. 1959). Vbl.n. jabblin, a splash, gen. in pl. drips (Ork. 1958 Ork. Herald (25 Feb.)).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 27:
We had nae jabblin thing like scaud ava to sipple wi.
Dmf. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 145:
The milk jabbled sae, wi' his rinnin, that it was like to flee out o' the stoup.

2. intr., of the sea: to become choppy, e.g. when the wind rises or at the meeting of tides (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Cai., Kcd., Ayr., Kcb., Uls. 1959). Hence jabbled, agitated, stormy (Sh. 1959).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 399:
The air, or ocean's jabbling tide.
n.Sc. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven Intro.:
The Gordonhaven men would . . . from its jabbled waters oft return with a goodly catch of prime haddocks.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxv.:
They came through jabbled water to the ship that strained upon her cable.

3. Fig. To confuse, jumble.Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 30:
He should jabble the joodgment an confoond the sense, an set us a' wunnerin whut he's on aboot.

II. n. 1. A shaking of a liquid, a confusion of a liquid and its sediment. Gen.Sc.; esp. a weak watery mixture, of tea, soup or the like (Abd. 1808 Jam.; Cai., Bnff., Abd., Kcd., m.Lth., Ayr., Gall., Uls. 1959), “a mixture spoilt by being tossed about” (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 75). Also reduplic. forms jeeble-jabble (Ib.), jipple-japple.Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 211:
While Meg sair'd them first wi' some jabble To groun' their wame.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes xxv.:
We're no like you — forced to lat ower . . . ony jabble o' luke-warm water.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 60:
When a larger quantity is spoken of, jabble is used.
Bnff. 1925 G. Cumming A'anside Lilts 32:
I mind it weel, 'twas thick as cream, Nane o' your jipple-japple.

Hence jabbloch, jabblick (Gregor), “weak, watery, spirituous liquors” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 281), “any weak liquid like tea or gruel” (Kcb.4 1900, Kcb. 1959).

2. A ripple on the surface of water; a choppy sea, esp. that caused by meeting of tide and wind from opposite directions (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 281; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Ork. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. Cf. 1862 Fraser's Mag. (Feb.) 156:
I've seen them [Eskimo boats] dancin' thro' the jabble . . . as skeely as a loom or a deuk.
Fif. 1884 G. Bruce Reminisc. 239:
Only a light N.E. breeze, with a slight “jabble” on the water.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lochinvar xxi.:
Everything creaked and tumbled in the dancing jabble of the cross seas.
Bwk. 1901 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club XVIII. 131:
Aye, it needs a jabble on the waiter to gar the poos creep.
Cai. 1940 John o' Groat Jnl. (23 Feb.):
'Ere's a jabble 'boot 'e shore.
Cai. 1950 Neil M. Gunn The White Hour (1990) 55:
The stones landed very near the boats and frequently between them so that George's boat began to wash inshore again in a helpless way. Once a stone very nearly got it and it shipped sparks of water from the jabble. It looked completely beaten, the most lifeless thing anyone could see.
Arg. 1952 N. Mitchison Lobsters on the Agenda v.:
There would have been a bit jabble beyond the harbour, not much surely, but enough to scare a right landsman.
Fif. 1985 Christopher Rush A Twelvemonth and a Day 119:
... we sailed paper boats made out of stiff old school jotters, using sand as ballast, and if there was a westerly wind and jabble on the sea, we watched them sail out of sight before they became waterlogged and sank; ...

3. Fig. Confusion, agitation (Per., Slk. 1959); esp. of speech, an incoherent muddle (Sh. 1959).Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel 101:
There was a terrible jabble of emotions.
Per. 1896 I. MacLaren Kate Carnegie 307:
Carmichael's mind was in a “jabble” that day.

[Freq. of Jab, v., n.]

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"Jabble v., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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