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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

NABAL, n., adj. Also nabel, nab(b)le, nahbal; naubal, nabald, -alt (Marw.), -eld (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), -ilt; nibald; ¶naible. [′nɑ:bəl(d)]

I. n. A grasping, hoarding person, one who is careful to meanness about money, a miser (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 356; Kcb. 1900; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. Gl.; Bnff. 1963); a fool (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Also in deriv. forms nabaler, nabbler, id. (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.). Hence nabalish. adj., covetous, greedy (Sc. 1825 Jam.); nib(b)eldis, id. (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sc. 1792 “Juvenis Scoticus ” Melpomene 50:
The siller'd nabals, cosh an' and braw.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail iv.:
He's an even down Nabal — a perfect penure pig.
Sc. 1825 Lockhart Scott lxii.:
The Nabal asks £40,000 — at least £5000 too much.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 213:
The odium of an ungracious nabal.
Sh. 1900 Shetland News (27 Oct.):
He's as heard as nails — a nibald.
Kcb. 1919 T.S.D.C.:
A nabble o' a worker. A nabble o' a body — an awfu' body for getherin' gear.

II. adj. Greedy, grasping, niggardly, churlish (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add., naubal; Cai 3 1931; Abd. 1936 D. Bruce Cheengefu' Wordle 23; Ork. 1949 “Lex ” But-end Ballads 19; ‡Sh., Abd., Kcd. 1963).Kcb. 1861 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 52:
But oh haud back frae nable Johnny.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlv.:
Gushets was fell nabal at the ootset.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 60:
The nable wife whas' prayer teuk.
Sh. 1924 J. Hunter Sketches 107:
Du's ower nabilt ta lat sae muckle gang by dee.
Abd. 1936 Abd. Univ. Review (July) 198:
Auld Drummie, a douce elder o' the kirk, His wife, a nahbal skinflint, servan's said.

[From the biblical Nabal, 1 Samuel xxv.]

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"Nabal n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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