Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

NEVEL, n., v. Also (k)nevell, neval, nevvel. nievel, -le, neevel (Watson), naval; neffle. neiffel, naffle; nivvle, n(j)ivvel, n(j)ivl. nyovel (I.Sc.); kneevle (Gregor), knivel, and intensive forms kneevlack, knivv- (Gregor), knivelach. Reduplic. form nif-niffle. [nɛvl, nɪv-, niv-, kn-; Fif. nɛfl]

I. n. 1. A sharp blow with the fist, a blow that raises a swelling, the mark left or the noise made by such a blow (Nai. 1813 W. Leslie Agric. Mry. Gl., knivelach; Sc. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1880 Jam., knevell; Cai. 1903 E.D.D.; Kcb. 3 1929; Rxb. 1964); a drubbing, severe beating (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 97). Combs. and phr.: dry neiffels, “dry blows”, fisticuffs, punches; hanny nevel, see Hand, n., 8. (24) (a); staffy nevel. see Staff.Fif. 1701 St. Andrews Cit. (17 Sept. 1938) 12:
He challenged his elder brother John to a combate, as he called it, of dry neiffels.
Sc. 1718 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 67:
Wi' Nevels I'm amaist fawn faint.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 14:
An' 'gin ye speer fa' got the day, We parted on a nevel.
Per. 1766 A. Nicol Poems 50:
Some wi' nevels had sare snouts.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 130:
But Sandy's hardy norlan bairns Lent him a manly nevel.
Fif. 1846 Anon. Muckomachy 17:
Aince out her sturdy neives she threw, And gave his cheek some dainty nevels.

2. A groping, prodding or poking with the fingers, in an indecent sense (Sh. 1964). Cf. II. 2.

II. v. 1. To punch, pummel, batter, to strike so as to cause swelling, to press down with violence (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 97, 227; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Cai., Rxb. 1964); to butt like a young animal (Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 77). Also fig. Vbl.n. knevellin, -an, kneevlan, knivellin, n(j)ivlin, a drubbing, thumping (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 97; Ayr. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1907 County of Cai. (Horne) 77; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Also in n.Eng. dial.Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace iiii. iii.:
Twenty and Nine they fell in that days Feed Of Southeron Men that nevel'd were to Dead.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 339:
[He] nevell'd me sae sair that for a week, I cou'd nae draw my breath, or freely speak.
Dmf. 1805 Scots Mag. (May) 357:
Hail, Poverty, thou friend indeed, Though sair thou noosts and nevals me.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxiv.:
Twa landloupers jumpit out of a peat-hag on me or I was thinking, and got me down, and knevelled me sair aneuch.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 184:
They were knevillin, an' tryin to drown ane anither a' that they could.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals x.:
It was just a yird toad, and the laddie weans nevelled it to death with stones.
Ork. c.1894 W. R. Mackintosh Peat-fires 63:
When the present Mr Spence of Overbist, Birsay, was a young lad out on the hill “flaying moor”, Beglow . . . stopped and told the youngster that he was “knivellin' i' the heid o' his grandmither”.
Kcb. 1905 Gallovidian VII. 94:
If . . . ony ane had whispered into your lug an ill word o' the aul' toon, ye'd a nevelled them where they stood.
Sh. 1952 J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 145:
Fir nyvvelin Kate Guillet On Sunday ida kirk!

2. To grip, squeeze, pinch with the fingers (Ork. 1929 Marw., nivvle), to feel by pinching or prodding, sometimes in an indecent sense (Fif. 1850; Sh. 1964), specif. to knead well, to leave the marks of the knuckles on bread (Ayr. 1825 Jam.), to rumple, tousle, caress roughly (Fif. c.1850 R. Peattie MS.); to squeeze or pluck out. Cf. neffow s.v. Nieve, I. 1.Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 63:
Thick nevel't scones, beer-meal, or pease, To brither doun a shave o' cheese.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 35:
The e'en out o' her pow they'll naval.
Clc. 1852 G. P. Boyd Misc. Poems 30:
A naffled bundle, crammed wi' waes.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxx.:
Gin ye hadna rubbit my face sae cruelly wi' yer hard beard, an' naffled a' my veil.
Sc. 1889 H. Stephens Bk. Farm III. 26:
Nievling is done by grasping the teat with the whole hand, or fist, making the sides of the forefinger and thumb press upon the teat more strongly than the other fingers, when the milk flows by pressure.
Ayr. 1892 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 318:
Nif-niflin' at her apron-strings.
Fif. 1932:
An old woman said to me [a doctor] two days ago while I was examining her abdomen — i.e. pressing it and squeezing it — “I hae been gey weel naffled the day.”

[O.Sc. has nevell, = I. 1., c.1500, neffel, = II. 1., 1558. Freq. or intensive form from Nieve, a fist. For the Sh. forms, cf. Norw. dial. knevla, to seize, squeeze, knead. There has prob. been some confusion with Kneevle and its derivs.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Nevel n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jul 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: