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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PUNDLER, n. Also pundlar; punler; punder, -ar. [′pʌn(d)lər]

1. An instrument of the steelyard type (see 1758 quot.) formerly used, mainly in Ork. and Shet., for weighing the heavier type of produce, the Bismar, q.v. being used for lighter and smaller articles (Ork. 1825 Jam., 1866 Edm. Gl., ‡Ork. 1967). Comb. pundar-legged, fig., of persons: having long skinny legs (Cai.9 1939).Ork. 1719 W. Mackintosh Glimpses Kirkwall (1887) 82:
That none other might make, adjust, or seall pundlers or bismers but he and the subsequent Deacons for the time.
Ork. 1734 P. Ork. A.S. (1923) 65:
One measuring barrell, two sufficient riddles, two sufficient pundlers, whereof the one malt, the other a Beer pundler with Stones, cleiks and tows.
Ork. 1758 Session Papers, Galloway v. Morton (12 June) 4–5:
The Weighing Instruments are two; the Bysmar used for small Weights from a Mark to a Lispund; and the Pundar for larger Weights, from three Setteens or Lispunds, and upwards . . . The Pundar is a Beam of about six Feet long, about three Inches Diameter at one End, tapering gradually to the other End; a Hook is fixed at the greater End, for suspending what is to be weighed upon it; about six Inches from that End the Tongue and Shears are fixed by a Staple; at the upper End of the Shears there is a large Iron Ring, through which a cross Beam is put, for suspending the Machine in weighing; and this cross Beam is commonly supported by two Men on their shoulders. The Pundar is marked with Notches at proper Distances, corresponding to and exhibiting the Weights of the Commodities weighed.
Ork. 1805 G. Barry Hist. Ork. 212:
The pundler is the instrument employed for weighing malt, meal, bear, oats, and other gross and weighty commodities.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 288:
Until about the year 1835, the pundlar and bismar . . . were the weighing instruments in common use.
Kcb. 1901 R. D. Trotter Gall. Gossip 352:
Sae Bob gat a basket an a punler, an cadge't the flesh a' ower the toon.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Pundler, a large weighing-beam used formerly in Orkney for weighing grain, etc. on. The principle was that of the steelyard; with that instrument the heavy end of the stick was sufficient counter poise, but with the pundler a heavy stone was required in addition. In Shet., on the contrary the punder was the name of the instrument for weighing light articles and the bismer was used for heavy.

2. Fig. the human head (Ork. 1929 Marw., “the weight used as a counterpoise with the punder was a large stone about the size of a man's head”).

[The form pundler has been altered under the influence of pundler s.v. Pund, n.2, from the earlier pundar, O.N. pundari, steelyard, a deriv. of pund, pound. O.Sc. pundler, 1613.]

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"Pundler n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2024 <>



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