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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MUILD, n.1, v. Also müld(e); muil(l); möld; meul(d); mold; mield, meel, meal (ne.Sc.); mul(l); mell-, mael-; mil(l)-; moold, moul(l), mool, mule; moud. Sc. forms of Eng. mould. [møl(d), mɪl(d), ne.Sc. mil; mul(d); mʌud. See etym. note.]

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng.; in Sc. freq. in pl.: soil which has been broken up in the course of cultivation, pulverised earth (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1787 Burns Lament for W. Creech iv.:
Now gawkies, tawpies, gowks, and fools, Frae colleges and boarding-schools, May sprout like simmer puddock-stools In glen or shaw; He wha could brush them down to mools, Willie, 's awa!
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy vi.:
And I wad say for certain, that I am gaun to quit at Cannlemas, only I was just as positive on it twenty years syne, and I find mysell still turning up the mouls here, for a' that.
Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems 131:
They've eaten the sward till the red mool is seen.
ne.Sc. 1829 Hugh Spencer in Child Ballads (1889) III. 281:
He wad hae ridden oer meel or mor A leve-lang summer's day.
Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 72:
Men ca' the wee sleek mole blind because he . . . leeves darklin in the moul.
Lth. 1883 M. Oliphant Ladies Lindores xxxvi.:
Wha was it that came ben to me with the red moul on his claes and his coat a' torn?
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 41:
Aa roond I see Bit mystery In watter, müld, an staen.
Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert xi.:
The different moold an' air wud gar them grow awa' fae idder.
Abd. 1945 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 174:
Mina hersel' felt as much pairt o' the tattie park as the broon mools themsel's.

Combs. and derivs.: (1) mool(d)board, -beerd, -bred, the mould-board of a plough. Gen.Sc. For the forms see Buird, Bred. Mouldbred is now obs. in Eng.; (2) mould furrow, meel-fur (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Per. 1963), n., the last furrow of a Rig, ploughed on soil from which the sod has already been turned over; v., to plough with a mould-furrow, rare; (3) möld-rich, fig., having heaps of money, very rich (Sh. 1963); (4) muildy, müldy, mulie, (i) of earth: crumbled, finely broken up (Cld. 1825 Jam.; I.Sc. 1963); (ii) earthy, deep in the soil (I.Sc., Lth., Ayr., Kcb. 1963). Comb. müldy-hadd, a firm grip of the soil.(1) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 460:
Another article belonging to a ploughman's business, such as the moolbred.
Abd. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc. 197:
My stibbles maun be pleughed aucht inch deep; that's aboot as deep as the moold breerd [sic] o' the pleugh.
(2) Sc. 1851 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 171, 185:
The divisions between the ridges [are called] the open furrows, . . . and the last furrows ploughed in the open furrows are named the mould or hint-end furrows. . . . The headridges should be cloven down with a gore-furrow along the ends of the ridges, and mould-furrowed in the crowns.
Abd. 1934 J. E. Crombie W.-L.:
Meel-fur. The very last furrow of the rig after the last green furrow (the hintin) has been turned over, and only bare earth remains to plough.
(3) Sh. 1955 New Shetlander No. 42. 7:
Folk at's möld-rich wi gaddered gair.
(4) (ii) Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 210:
Whaar no a girse pile, or a soorik, Fir a müldy-hadd need try.

2. Freq. in pl., the earth of a graveyard (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poet. Gl., meuls; Sc. 1808 Jam.); the grave. Gen.Sc. Hence deriv. moolie, -y, earthy, damp and earth-stained, with ref. to the grave.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 19:
Ah Heavens! did e'er this lyart Head of mine Think to have seen the cauldrife Mools on thine!
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 54:
For Nory's surely dead; She's got, I fear, what wedding she will get, That's wi' the mields.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 38:
Whan ye refuse guide milk meat, I'm doubtfu' your mouth be gaun to the mules.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Addr. to Toothache iv.:
Worthy frien's laid i' the mools, Sad sight to see!
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxxiv.:
When ye laid his head in the grave . . . ye saw the mouls laid on an honest lad.
Dmf. 1820 J. Johnstone Poems 112:
Nought's for me but death's dark pantry, Mooly wa's and roof o' green.
Sc. 1827 W. Motherwell Minstrelsy 359:
I came not here to fair Scotland, To lye amang the meal.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 332:
I'll fight wi' the bodie an' cangle, Till I get him laid i' the mou'd.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxix.:
And the souls crap oot o' their mooly graves, A' dank wi' lyin' by.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 147:
A shower on the mould of the open grave — the meels — was taken as an indication that the soul of the departed was enjoying happiness.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 121:
Over the stones a number of skraws, or thin sods were placed to prevent the mools squeezing the plague out; and then . . . a tummock was made over it.
Sc. 1897 Stevenson W. Hermiston ix.:
This life's a' disappointment, and a mouthfu' o' mools is the appointed end.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 20:
Sa'l hid's a muckle pity tae pit sic a geud piece o' claith i' the meuld.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 15:
Let this beide as a merk o the respeck o the wreiter . . . ti yin that may the muils lie licht on; the auld yeh-teime keeper o Jethart Aibbey!
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 143:
O Lord, I wadna like tae think Amang they lanesome mools tae be.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 34:
He aye threips oan that when ye're deid ye're deid.
Thae's be nae girnin in ablo the mool ...
nor tholin Clootie's salutorie dool.
Sc. 1989 Scotsman (7 Jan.)  7:
But I remember with amusement the comments of a friend o mine, now deceased, who said shortly after MacDiarmid's committal to the mouls of Langholm: "He should have done something for his country, like Harry Lauder!"
Lnk. 1991 Duncan Glen Selected Poems 56:
And him of perfect physique
and not quite twenty
being lowered to be at yin wi the mool
as his stane in time
carved in immemorial leid
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 27:
Tae win awa, tae courie doun,
tae courie doun, aiblins tae dream
aye that's the fasherie.
For whan the sheilin's duin
the mool maun haud sic wudden dreams
as mak us raither bide sair hudden doun.
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 20:
Keir Hardie wadna ligg sae douce
ablo the mouls gin he coud see
the gowks his Pairtie herbors nou.
em.Sc. 1999 James Robertson The Day O Judgement 7:
Oceans an bens will flee awa,
Deaved wi the dour trumpet's rummle,
The deid will coor aneath the mools;
The quick in fear will trummle.

Combs. and phrs.: (1) abune the moul, — da möld, alive, in this world (I.Sc., ne.Sc. 1963); (2) cirsent meels, hallowed ground, burial on land in a consecrated graveyard; (3) meuld-drooth, -drocht, an acute and continuous thirst thought to portend the death of the person concerned (Sh. 1963); †(4) muld-mete, the last food eaten before death, in phr. to give one his muld mete, to kill someone (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis); ¶(5) müld-sark, graveclothes, winding sheet, shroud.(1) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (24 Feb.):
Sic a sea is no been seen by ony ane abune da möld.
(2) Bnff. c.1890 Gregor MSS.:
Gehn the body [of a drowned person] is t' get cirsent meels, the sea's never at rist till the body 's ashore.
(3) Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 249:
He would go to the “water sae” and pretend to drink most copiously, and after several such pretences would casually remark that he “dooted dis waas da meuld-drooth.” That was enough, Jeanie would hand him her keys that he might help himself to his utmost desire, for the “meuld-drooth” according to her creed meant the early death of her son.
(5) Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 42:
Du'll be pleased whin du sees my müld sark on.

3. A crumb, a small fragment, esp. of oatcake (Cai.8 1934). Also fig. In Gen.Sc. usage in dims. mool-, mul-, meal-, meel-, ¶mell-, -ock, -ick, -ich, meelick (Bnff. 1987), and double dim. meelackie (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1916 Wilson L. Strathearn 257; Abd., Ags. 1963). For vbl. use of mealick, see II. 2. Adj. deriv. moolie, mulie, full of crumbs (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. c.1930); liable to crumble, crumbling (Per., Cld. 1880 Jam.; Fif., Ayr. 1963).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 112:
“Shack the meelacks oot o' the truncher.” Meelackie and wee meelackie are in common use.
Abd. 1870 W. Buchanan Olden Days 108:
I've seen aul' Baubie layin' doon meelocks till 'er bairns, as she ca'd the sparrows.
Abd. 1892 J. Cromar Prodigal's Wife 93:
“Have some lunch, and then for your business.” “Nae a mellock, sir, till I've tauld my errand.”
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 170:
Munchin meallocks frae my pockets.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 38:
Oats wi' their innards shakken oot, an' jist ae mealick left cooerin' in the nyeuk.

4. Specif.: (1) the dry crumbs of peat refuse at the bottom of a peat stack (Sh., Cai. 1963). Deriv. müldy, mülde, formed of peat fragments, in combs.: möldie-blett, see Blett (Sh. 1963 New Shetlander No. 64. 7); miüldie bing, a heap of peat refuse used as byre-litter (Sh. 1963). See Bing, n.1; möldie kishie, a straw basket for carrying peat mould (Sh. 1963). See Kishie; müldy koose, = müldie bing above. See Kes; (2) a small wisp of straw from gleanings (Sh., Cai. 1963, muilock, moolick); (3) “refuse of meal at a mill, generally used to feed swine” (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.).(1) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (20 Oct.):
Shü hüv'd a weet möldie kishie, half foo o' grice mites, apo' da flör.
Sh. 1947 New Shetlander (June–July) 10:
Wan settled on a mülde koose, da tiddir on da hill.
Sh. 1949 Ib. No. 17. 2:
If there has been a period of dry weather, muild can be gathered, i.e., the dry upper surface of peaty hill land where no vegetation has taken root. The surface of the earth is scraped and the fine dry brown earth is gathered into a heap and built around with faels and stones to form a müldy koose, or else put into sacks and brought straight to the steading by tractor or motor lorry. It is used in the byre and lambhouse to keep the cattle and lambs dry and warm during the winter.

5. In dim. forms moolie, meelie, mealie, meelick, a child's marble of burnt clay, usually of a pale or flecked colour (Mry. 1919 T.S.D.C., meelie; Ayr. 1963); the ring in the game of marbles. Comb. mealie-fattie, a clay marble used in a ring game (Cai. 1919 T.S.D.C.). See Fat, adj.2Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 137:
When the ring was the game a' the lakes he wad win; For his pitcher was sure i' the meelick to spin.
Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 76:
When I gave another chap's “pitcher” the “speelick”, My ain ane was sure jist to spin i' the “meelick”.
Sc. 1899 Mont-Fleming 101:
The marb;es generally called “commies” (made of common clay) were sometimes called “moolies” , especially when they were particularly soft and ill-shaped.

II. v. 1. To bury, to inter (Uls. 1963). In ppl.adj. mouled, buried, beneath the sod.Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck x.:
But where are they now? A' mouled! a' mouled!

2. Also in deriv. forms mealick, meelick (see n., 3.): (1) tr. and intr.: to crumble down, to reduce to fragments (Abd.6 1929; ne.Sc., Ags. 1963), lit. and fig.; to crumble one substance in with another, specif. to crumble oatcakes into a bowl of milk (ne.Sc. 1963). Combs. meal-in, mealie-in, the name of this dish (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 112; ne.Sc. 1963). Also fig.; (2) gen. with in, of persons: to mix well together, to fraternise or associate with (Mry.1 1925; Ork., ne.Sc., Edb. 1963); to cooperate amicably in sharing (Abd.7 1925); to curry favour with (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd. 1963).(1) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 398:
I'll give you the thing that will not mool in your Pouch.
Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 82:
Ye ken nathing but milk and bread when it is mool'd in to you.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 113:
An while Deborah mools some crumbs, Auld baudrons sits, and croodling thrumbs.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 413:
The bairnies them daigh did mool.
Bnff. 1854 Banffshire Jnl. (31 Oct.) 3:
He would meel them down for meat to the chickens.
Abd. 1924 Trans. Bch. Field Club XIII. 25:
He loikes hoigh doctrine; bit me, Oi loike the Gospel meelickit sma' doon.
Bch. 1929 Abd. Univ. Rev. (March) 128:
Noo 'at A'm sa aul' an' hiz sic fyow teeth, A div like a drap o' mealt-in milk an' breid afore A gang ta ma bed.
(2) Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 85:
And there will be Alaster Sibbie, Wha in with black Bessie did mool.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 91:
There's monie bite an' sup wi' little din That wad na gree a straik at mooling in.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck x.:
I ken I'll soon be in a warld of spirits, an' that I maun mingle an' mool wi' them for ages.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 34:
Ane would like to be lo'ed, but wha could mool in wi' a moudie wort?
Gsw. a.1883 in A. G. Murdoch Scottish Poets 143:
He'll bring my words to min', when I'm moolin' 'mang the deid.
Abd. 1893 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) VII. 3:
Meal in wi' kent folk.
Knr. 1925 H. Haliburton Horace 197:
An' Pate would noo muil in wi' Meg, But Meg begins to thraw.

Hence vbl.n. muil(l)in, muil(le)en, ¶-ion, mul(l)in, -en, moulin, moolin(g), millin, mil(l)en, mellin, -en, maelin, -en; meal(ick)in, meel(ick)in (ne.Sc.), a crumb, a fragment, esp. of oatcake, lit. and fig; moolins, crumbs (Ayr. 2000s).  Gen.Sc.; eatables, food in gen. (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 149, mullins). Phr. to blaw one's moolins, to be at the end of one's resources (see quot.); the shavings of brass or similar metal (Ayr.9 1950).Sc. 1743 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 524:
It has a meikle maun blue pouch hingin at the carr side o'd, fou o' mullens and chucky-stanes.
Sc. a.1758 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 299:
Moolings of plumbcake, short bread, bisket.
Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Works (1871) 15:
Barely a mullin for mice or for rattens.
Lth. 1825 Jam. s.v. Mulin:
“He's blawing his moolins” . . . This is borrowed from the practice of boys, particularly of herds, who' after they have eaten the piece of oat-bread which they had carried to school, or to the field, take out the crumbs and blow the dust from them, that they may eat these also.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch vii.:
The laddies' girn set with moolings of bread.
Arg. c.1850 Flory Loynachan in Colville (1909) 114:
My heart is a' to muilins minched.
Clc. 1852 G. P. Boyd Misc. Poems vii.:
[He] has to win Wi' his twa hands his duds an' muilen.
Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.:
“No ae millin hae I” — not the smallest particle or scrap.
Ags. 1868 G. Webster Strathbrachan II. iv.:
He didna bide a moment worth, benae to swallow a moulin' o' cheese and a tumbler o' ale.
Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 63:
Bestow upon them [birds] — Muilions o' your braed And get their Richest blessings on yaer head.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags ii.:
I fed him [horse] with crumblings out of my jacket pocket — “moolings” Maisie Lennox called them.
Ags. 1896 Barrie Sentimental Tommy xxii.:
He was already . . . Stab-in-the Dark, Grind-them-to-Mullins and Warty Joe.
s.Sc. 1904 W. G. Stevenson Glen Sloken xii.:
Tak' care, noo' an' no' leave ony milens on the bed.
Sh. 1948 New Shetlander (Jan.–Feb.) 10:
I sometimes cut a mölen aff o' da vivda an' showed as I jafsed alang.
Arg. 1978:
Look at the moolins ye've left.
em.Sc.(b) 1991 Athole Cameron in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 53:
We get dugs
wee Yorky legs twinklin at the end o a lead
a lean reid setter nickin the auld wife's birdie moolins

[O.Sc. has muldebred, a.1400. The phonological development varies according to the quantity of the vowel in the orig. O.E. mōlde, muild, meel, representing mōlde, and mowd, Mid.Eng. mŏld (see P.L.D. §§ 35, 126, 78. 2. and cf. Moudiewort). Moold is from Eng. development of mōlde, now obs. The same history applies to Guil, Goold, Gowd, q.v.]

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"Muild n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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