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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SOLE, n., v. Also sol(l), soal(e). Sc. forms and usages:

I. n. 1. As in Eng., the underside of the foot. Deriv. solies, a beating on the soles of the feet. Phr. sole-feet(ed) stockin, stocking soles (Ork. 1971).Ags. 1878 J. S. Neish Reminisc. Brechin 7:
From henceforth the bastinado became a regular institution, “solies” superseded “palmies” in the summer time.

2. As in Eng., the lower part, bottom or base of anything, specif.: (1) the flat bottom of a golf club (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (2) the smooth undersurface of a curling-stone. Gen.Sc.; (3) the lower crust of a loaf of bread, comb. sole-shaif, the end slice of a loaf, the heel (Cai., Per., Fif., Ayr. 1971); a loaf which has such a bottom crust, a plain loaf, s.v. Plain (Cai. 1952); (4) the bottom rope of a fishing net (Ayr. 1930; Sh., Wgt. 1971). Comb. sole-raip, id. (Sh., n.Sc., Fif., Ayr. 1971); (5) a pan or trough, used e.g. in the making of candles and soap. Comb. †sole-pan, a salt pan with a bottom, as compared with those which only had sides, and were set into the ground; (6) a flat plate such as is placed under a soup-tureen or gravy-boat, or which forms the base of a cheese dish (ne.Sc. 1971). Combs. plate sole, sole-plate, id.; (7) the bell-end of a bagpipe chanter (Sc. 1971); (8) the sub-soil, the under surface of land (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Orig. Sc. Rare in Eng.; (9) the sward or surface vegetation of a pasture (Inv., Abd., Per. 1921 T.S.D.C.; ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc., Gall. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial.(1) Sc. 1887 Golfing (Chambers) 93:
A head is the lowest part of a club, and possesses, among other mysterious characteristics, a sole, a heel, a toe or nose, a neck, and a face!
(2) Sc. 1811 J. Ramsay Curling 3:
The under surface, or sole, as it is called, is polished as nicely as possible, that the stone may move easily along.
(3) Sc. 1716 J. Moncrief Poor Man's Physician 12:
Take a loaf of ordinary Bread from the Oven; take away the lower crust, to wit, the sole, and dip it in Aquavitae.
(4) Arg. 1884 Crofter's Comm. Evid. IV. 3352:
There is a sole rope to the bottom of the net.
Sc. 1892 Scots Mag. (March) 308:
The spawn of the cod and the haddock being crushed by the weighty ground, or sole-ropes of the trawlers.
(5) Sc. 1800 Edb. Advertiser (24 Jan.) 51:
Six soals, one candle cauldron, one new wooden taugh stock.
e.Lth. a.1810 P. McNeill Prestonpans (1902) 23:
Prior to the year 1810 the pans in use for the manufacture of salt were about fourteen feet in length. They were built on pillars, and called “sole pans”, from the fact of their being fired from the ground.
(6) Abd. 1742 Powis Papers (S.C.) 280–1:
A Plate Sole . . . . 12s. 0d. A Silver Tract Pot and Sole . . . £99 18s. 2d. Scots.
Sc. 1743 Edb. Commiss. Test. MSS. CVII.:
Eight peuther plates a sole plate three ashetts.
(7) Sc. 1966 Scotland's Mag. (Feb.) 17:
The engraved silver “sole” for the bottom of the chanter.
(8) Per. 1796 J. Robertson Agric. Per. (1799) 518:
I put the sole of the arable ground, or under surface, as far as I can from the upper surface.
Sh. 1904 E.D.D.:
An open sole. A clay sole.
(9) Arg. 1930:
Man, there's a fine sole on the green the year: it's the wat wather.

3. As in Eng., the metal under-part on which a plough rests, or slides when in motion. In the old wooden plough this was gen. an iron shoe covering a wooden board and hence combs. sole-bar, sole-clout (Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Kcb. 1971), sole-flange, sole-plate (Lth. 1971), sole-shoe, -shue, -shae (Fif. 1808, Cld. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1971).e.Lth. 1806 Foord Acct. Bk. MS. 1:
To a mouldboard and soal shoe 44¾lb.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xv.:
The sole-clout of a real steady Scottish pleugh.
Arran 1837 Trans. Highl. Soc. 147:
The plough with no other iron-work than a sole-plate, coulter, and sock.
Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm I. 414:
The sole-bar upon which the share is fitted. The breadth of the sole-flange is 2 inches.

4. A sill, a supporting or strengthening stone- or wooden beam, esp. in a window or door-case, a window-sill or threshold (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 69; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 266; Sc. 1952 Builder (20 June) 943). Gen.Sc. Now rare or dial. in Eng.Sc. 1707 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 115:
He some way unaccountably stepped off the sole of the window.
Sc. 1722 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 14:
The Supper Sowin-Cogs and Bannocks Stood cooling on the Soles of Winnocks.
Gsw. 1731 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 350:
Three slip soles in three windows.
Sc. 1757 Blair Jnl. in Atholl MSS.:
Two in the hill wining stones for soles and arch stones to three windows.
Rs. 1765 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 55:
Six stone solls for pillars for supporting the principal joists.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie vi.:
The sole of the window was occupied with a flower-pot containing a geranium.
Per. 1904 R. Ford Hum. Sc. Stories 38:
If Sandy Anderson ca's for his boots thae's them on the sole o' the window.

Combs.: (1) door-sole, the threshold (Ork., Cai. 1971); (2) sole-ale, a drink of ale given to house-builders to celebrate the laying of the window-sills (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). Cf. Lintel-ale, s.v. Lintel, 3.; (3) sole-band, a strengthening beam along the base of a pew; (4) sole-footed, of a roof: supported on tie-beams (see quot.); (5) sole-stick, the upright stake to which an ox or cow is bound in the stall (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 173); (6) sol(e)-tree, a horizontal beam of wood, gen. lying on the ground, which supports posts, specif. such a beam on the floor of a byre, where it forms the manger (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., Per. 1971); the beam on which the axle of the wheel of a horizontal water-mill rests and revolves (Sh. 1904 G. Goudie Antiq. Shetland 262, 1914 Angus Gl.); (7) window-, ‡winnock-sole, a window sill (Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 366; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.(1) Bnff. 1837 Trans. Bnff. Field Club (1932) 182:
For a door sole for the kirk Officer's house . . . 1s. 6d.
(3) Ags. 1780 Carmyllie Session Rec. MS. (14 Feb.):
The best Riga or Memel wood excepting the floor, Solebands and Stoops for the seats to be of Norrua.
(4) Edb. 1755 Session Papers, Laing v. Lord Chief Baron Idle (5 March) 7:
The old Roof was what they call a sole-footed Roof, or hanging Post and Spur-band, which is a very ill contrived Kind of Roof.
(6) Abd. 1707 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) X. 45:
To the Pantry with a double Tree and sol Trees and over Trees.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot., App. I. 290:
The byre to be fitted up with stakes, sole, and runtrees in the usual way.
Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 23:
The whole apparatus [of the Klik mill] consists of a hopper and the two stones, the adjusting for fine or coarse meal being done by a perpendicular beam attached to the end of the sole tree on which the spindle of the water wheel rests.
(7) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 6:
May never a window sole be without them.
Ayr. c.1775 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes (1870) 60:
He sat on a winnock sole, and sang the king a bonny sang.
Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xii.:
I ken ye wad be hinging about the window-soles as usual, keeking in.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xxii.:
All the window-soles whitewashed over with frost-rind in the mornings.
Abd. 1867 Justiciary Reports (1868) 469:
Coming down the staircase, on the window-sole of which Mr. Fyffe immediately afterwards found the carving-knife.
Lnk. 1897 J. Wright Scenes Sc. Life 5:
On each window-“sole” rows of wooden luggies would be seen filled with parritch.
Sc. 1931 Sc. Educational Jnl. (18 Dec.):
His ‘pick' is on the window-soll.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 51:
Wee Jockie-birdie, toll-oll-oll, Laid an egg on the windi-soll.

II. v. 1. tr. To tread, esp. in fig. phr. to sole eart, grund, to be or remain alive, to live (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); ‡I.Sc. 1971).Ork. 1956 C. M. Costie Benjie's Bodle 92:
He wis wan o' the finest fellows I kent ever soled grund.

2. Phr. to sole one's beets, to make a profit, to do well for oneself.Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxv.:
Aw doot he hisna sol't's beets wi's transack amo' the lasses.

3. To throw (a curling-stone) so that it lands smoothly on the ice without bumping (Sc. 1971). Phr. to sole fair, id. (Ayr. 1930). Now obs. in Eng., of throwing a bowl.Dmf. 1904 J. Gillespie Humours 96:
Scotch Skip to his Vice-Skip: Weel soled, ma mannie! Now row her in, boys.

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"Sole n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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