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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

JIRBLE, v., n. Also ja(i)rble, jirple. Dim. n. jirblach. [dʒɪrbl, dʒɛrbl]

I. v. 1. To agitate a liquid carelessly so as to cause spilling (Fif. 1808 Jam., Add.); to pour out unsteadily in small quantities (Fif., Rxb. 1825 Jam., j(a)irble; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Abd., Fif., Knr., m.Lth., wm.Sc., Wgt., Rxb. 1959). Freq. with ower. Also vbl.n. (1) the act of pouring out frequently or in small quantities; the act of spilling carelessly (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (2) pl. jairblins, dregs of tea or any liquid, spots of a liquid which has been spilt (Ib.).Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's W. x.:
It's the jinketing and the jirbling with tea and with trumpery that brings our nobles to ninepence.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 164:
Frae the bottle o' his pride He jirbles out a dram.
Rxb. 1927 Spectator (3 Dec.) 979:
A mother sending her boy to the farmhouse for milk will warn him not to “jairble” it but carry it steadily.

Hence comb. †jirbling-tub, a wide-mouthed tub or pail for slops.Sc. 1760 City Cleaned and Country Improven 9:
Two Men-Scavingers, with the Sting and Say, can carry more water conveniently . . . than ten single persons can do with an open Jirbling-tub between their hands.

2. To tipple (Slk. 1959).

II. n. 1. Liquid spilt from the vessel containing it; usu. in pl. = spillings (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1959).

2. A small quantity of liquid poured out (Lnk., s.Sc. 1959); a drop (Watson, obsol.); a drip from a tap (Rxb.4 1948, jirple). Also used fig.Lnk. 1822 Clydesdale Wedding (Chapbook) 1:
Whar there's nought but leaf bread & some butter, Wi' three cups o' jirblach o' tea.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 7:
“Not for a jirble less”, quo he, “than jist the bloomin' lot.”
Lth. 1927 Spectator (3 Dec.) 979:
“A guid jirble of drink” connotes more than a good quantity: it means a big splash of liquor and suggests the idea of a confusion or mixture of drinks.
Rxb. 1927 Kelso Chron. (1 April) 4:
This . . . was the “Bill o' Fare” . . . Curr'n'y Dumplin' — A Jairble o' Coffee.

3. In pl. The dregs of liquor left in a glass after repeatedly drinking from it (Fif., Rxb. 1825 Jam., j(a)irbles; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

[A freq. form based on *jirb, imit. of a splashing sound and poss. thought of as an emphatic form of Jib; cf. Jirp.]

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"Jirble v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Jun 2023 <>



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