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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

NEUGLE, n. Also ni(o)gle, nyogle, nyugl (Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 14. 13), njug(ge)l, n(j)uggle, nigel; also with variant ending njug(g)er, nicker, nikker (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); neckar, nick-, nekker (in sense 2.); and deriv. forms knoggelvi (Ork. Ib.), nucklavee (Ork. 1929 Marw.). [′njugəl; ‡′nɪkər]

1. A water-spirit traditionally appearing in the form of a horse (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., niogle, 1869 J. T. Reid Art Rambles 31, nigle, nygel, 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. and Shet. 169, nuggle, 1897 J. Jakobsen Dial. Shet. 42, njuggle, 1937 J. Nicolson Restin' Chair Yarns 75, njugl). Hence the jocular phr. his Neogleship. Cf. Kelpie, Shoupiltin; a taboo name for a horse (Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 121). The word also occurs as a first element in compounded place-names.Sh. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 142:
There is also a “trow” called a “neagle” [sic] . . . who makes his appearance about mills, particularly when grinding, in the shape of a beautiful poney. . . . But some millers . . . salute his Neogleship with a burning brand through the lightning-tree hole, which makes him immediately scamper away.
Ork. 1891 Sc. Antiquary V. 132:
Nuckelavee's head was like a man's, only ten times larger, and his mouth projected like that of a pig and was enormously wide. The burning of sea-weed for kelp gave terrible offence to Nuckelavee, and filled him with diabolical rage.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 23:
The neugle or nicker was a water deity that appeared in the form of a sleek horse, having an erect mane and tail like the “rim o' a muckle wheel.”
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Njug(ge)l. Hearing its name mentioned, it would lose its power. It would often stop the wheels of the water-mills when turning, and would only desist when offered something. This was usually meal, which was strewn from the mill upon the water.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
An animal having the appearance of a horse, of a dark bluish-grey colour. He is amphibious. His favourite retreat is the underhus of a watermill. He . . . is never seen far from water. By feigning tameness and fondness, he induces the weary, belated traveller who may meet him to mount on his back, when, at once, with lightning speed, he makes for the nearest water — with a noise like thunder, his eyes flaming, jets of fire issuing from his mouth and nostrils, and a luminous trail like the tail of a comet stretching out behind him — and plunges in, leaving his deluded rider . . . to his fate. He cannot bear the sight or the smell of fire.
Sh. 1943 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs IV. 15:
The nyogle was regarded as a sprite that could change his form. He was called sometimes the shoopiltie or sea-boy, but he often appeared as a pony or horse.

2. The squid or cuttlefish, Loligo forbesii (Kcd. 1911 T.S.D.C.; ne.Sc. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.).

[O.E. nicor, O.N. nykr, M.L.Ger., Mid. Du. necker, a water-demon; cf. also Ger. nix, id. The orig. -r forms have been replaced throughout the local speech by forms in -l and the mod. -r forms under 1. are prob. etym. restorations. It is not certain that 2. is the same word.]

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"Neugle n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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