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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.

PURFLE, v. Only in ppl.adjs. purfling, causing shortness of breath (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.) and purfled, purfillit (Sc. 1808 Jam.), purfl't. Of persons: fat and asthmatic, of a corpulent build, plump and wheezing, “short-winded, especially in consequence of being too lusty” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Also in altered forms purfet (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), purfeit, purfittie (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), purfly, id.Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 7:
Ilka ane whase saul is not sand-blind or purfled with Pride.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 179:
Thae purfeit chiels that clean coach graith, Wi' mony a vile blasphemous aith.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 15:
The language is out of condition — fat and fozy, thickwinded, purfled and plethoric.
Dmf. 1832 Carlyle in Froude Early Life (1882) II. 231:
Came upon Shepherd, the Unitarian parson of Liverpool, yesterday for the first time at Mrs. Austin's. A very large, purfly, flabby man.
Fif. 1875 Border Treasury (1 May) 460:
“I tell ye, man, that for as fat and purfeit as I am,” — and he folded his hands over his boardly paunch — “I could do the same thing, man . . . wi' the same help.”
Bwk. 1876 W. Brockie Leaderside Leg. 5:
Nae doot they've herriet a' the bykes O' purfeit Monkish drones.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
He looks purfl't, . . . breathless and short-winded, as from asthma.

[Orig. doubtful. Phs. an intensive form with -r- of puffle, Eng. dial. deriv. of puff, to blow, pant, swell out, etc.]

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



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