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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SOOPLE, n., v. Also souple, suple; soopel (Sh.); swoople; supple; sipple. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. swipple. [′supəl]

I. n. ‡1. The striking part of a flail, which beats the grain (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. c.1840 W. Lutton Montiaghisms (1924); Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., supel; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I. and n.Sc. 1971). Also in Eng. dial.; a pliant rod (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Ppl.adj. soupled, of a flail: having a soople. Combs.: Eskdale souple, see Eskdale Souple; ¶supple-driver, a flailman, a grain-thresher.Sc. 1701 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 9:
For 2 sives and 2 ridles 1 li. 10s. suples 8s.
Ork. 1728 H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1936) I. 139:
Pleughs, birks, shoovells, souples.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 16:
He gets an auld flail and rives away the supple.
Sc. 1787 Farmer's Mag. (March 1810) 58:
Aff the stage the warld shall hiss The Supple-Driver!
Hebr. 1795 Agric. North. Highl. 14:
The flail, consisting of a polished hand-staff, and a supple, thicker, shorter, and often knotty, . . . is the instrument for threshing.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 49:
The swoople on the end of the hand-staff being whirled round on the barn-floor by the barnman.
Per. a.1843 D. M. Forrester Logiealmond (1944) 116:
Bundles of eel-skins, for attaching the ‘souple' of a threshing-flail to the ‘hand-staff' thereof.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 214:
A thick aiken soople he grip't in his neive.
Gall. 1889 Bards Gall. (Harper) 50:
An airn-soupled Galloway flail.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (November 23):
Da boy's croon kens a ill swing o da soopel.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 18:
It was quite a common thing at a first attempt to strike the cupple-baulks with the soople, and the rebound invariably raised on the head of the flailman bumps that defied the skill of the most expert phrenologist.
Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. ii.:
He hadna threshen twa fleers fan's supple fell oot owre's back; the hidden had broken.
Uls. 1942 E. E. Evans Irish Heritage 125:
In Antrim the souple is flung round the head while in Donegal it is kept to the side of the body.

2. Only in Scott: a cudgel, a club, a stout stick.Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxv.:
If you and I were at the Withershins' Latch, wi' ilka ane a gude oak souple in his hand.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxxiv.:
If I tak my souple t' ye, I'll gar ye find the road faster than ye wad like.
Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers i.:
They had their broadswords and I have this bit supple, (showing a formidable cudgel).

II. v. To beat severely, to thrash. Vbl.n. sooplan, a severe beating, a thrashing (Gregor). But phs. rather an extended usage of Souple.Ags. 1825 J. Ross Sermon 26:
Sair your sides [of flax] the shilvants sipplet.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 174:
Gehn ye dinna haud yir ill-hung tung, a'll soople the back o' ye.

[Cf. note to Soom, Soop, and P.L.D. § 76. O.Sc. souple = I. 1., 1608.]

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"Soople n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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