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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SPULYIE, v., n. Also spul(l)ye, -ie, spulz(i)e, -y; spool(z)ie, spooly; spuil(z)ie, -yie, spuil(l)y, spüjlli, spülee; spewlie; spoilzie, -yie (S.D.D.). Also erron. spulsyie (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell Psalms lxviii. 12), ¶spudlie (Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 52). Cf. Despulzie. [′spul(j)i]

I. v. ‡1. tr. (1) To rob, despoil, plunder, lay waste (a person or place) (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, spulze, 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 209, 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., spüjlli; ne.Sc., Per. 1971); specif. to steal (marbles) from (Mry. 1925).Sc. 1803 A. Grant Poems 411:
A renegade, that made a trade Of spuilzieing friends and a'.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 137:
Spulzie him, said Craigievar.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 159:
Gin I had been meaning to spulzie ye a', I micht hae taen a moon-licht flitting.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Macdonald Lass. x.:
I would not have had the country harried, and poor folk spulzied.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray v.:
The Royalist Vagabonds spulzied my manse.
Sc. 1926 Scots Mag. (March) 435:
The fowk are sae rakit an' spuilyit, an' pit frae hoose an' land-haldin'.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 23:
Are vandals spulzyin phones an waas?
Is Finzean the fount o crime?

(2) to deprive (a person) by stealing of, rob of, bereave of.Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 213:
Spulzied o' her charming pose.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 61:
A' his hut was spullied clean O' bote an' barrel.
Crm. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 336:
They were spulzieing women of their yarn.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 48:
An' in his mou he pat the lave awa' — Sae were the cheatin' cats spuilyie't o' a'!
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xiii. 23:
But ower aften they're spulyiet o' their share o't By the grabbin o' wrangsome greed.

2. tr. To steal, carry off as spoil or plunder (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry. 1925; Abd. 1969); ‡specif. as a Sc. Law term: to carry off another's moveable possessions without legal warrant or against his will.Arg. 1727 Arg. Justiciary Rec. (Stair Soc.) II. 392:
The masterful spulzing of and wrongous intromission with the goods and gear of any person is a cryme . . . and the committers thereof not only lyable to the party leasd for restitution and damnadges but also punishable in their persons and goods.
Sc. 1744 Session Papers, Petition Crediitors W. Ross (16 July) 3:
The Herrings spuilied and carried away by Violence.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. 205:
What wad ye spulzie frae a poor auld man?
Sc. 1838 W. Bell Dict. Law Scot. 934:
The spuilzied property may be evicted from bona fide purchasers.
Ayr. 1847 Ballads Ayr. (Paterson) 111:
To spulye his sheep, and herry his land.
Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin i.:
Reivin' and thievin' an' spulyiein' whatever they thocht it worth their while to lay their cleuks on.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 23:
Mony a tasty kebbuck hale we've spooly't fae the “press”.
Sc. 1931 Encycl. Law Scot. XI. 530:
This action not only decreed restoration or restitution of the things spuilzied or their value.
Abd. 1969:
He spuliet it aff o' the bairn. They spuliet aathing about the place.

Derivs.: (i) spulyiement, spoil; (ii) spulyier, a robber, one who plunders.(i) Sc. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Aug.) 508:
Small will our share of the spulyiement be.
(ii) Abd. 1760 W. Smith MS. Diary (28 March):
Alexander Carnegie is due me for writing the Sentence and Extract thereof against the Spulziers of the Wreck at Peterhead.
Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (April) 55:
A desperate foumart trap — a cursed gird-an-girns to grip all kinds of spulziers.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 62:
They forc'd and flappit to the yird That spulyier and fae.

3. intr. or absol. To despoil, plunder, thieve, maraud (Abd. 1930; Per. 1971).Lnk. 1746 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 124:
Two of their Clan, That a spulzieing unto it came.
Sc. c.1800 Bk. Sc. Song (Whitelaw 1843) 470:
Letna onie spulzien crew Her dear-bought freedom wrest frae thee.
Sc. 1822 Baron of Brackley in Child Ballads No. 203 A. viii.:
They spulyie like rievers o wyld kettrin clan Who plunder unsparing baith houses and lan.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 213:
In spulyiein' he shaw'd craft and mense.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 217:
She imagined I'd been spoolyin' a bit.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 125:
His spulzieing band of soldiers.

4. To fritter away, waste (time, money, etc.) (Mry., Dmf. 1929).

5. To romp, flirt, gallivant.Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 89:
Dey hed twartree neebor lasses wirkin' tü, an' a lood time Lowrie an' me hed spüleein among dem.

6. tr. To spoil, mar, do harm to.Cai. 1751 D. Grant Old Thurso (1966) 15:
No butcher shall bring meat to the Mercate spulyied as they call it.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 107, 186:
It masters a' sic fell diseases That would ye spulyie . . . Haste, Epps, quo' John, an, bring my gez, Take tent ye dinna 't spulzie.

II. n. ‡1. Depredation, spoliation, plundering, devastation (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Cai., Abd., Per. 1971); a state of confusion, a mix-up (Ork. 1971). Phr. i' spullye, in a state of disorder, ransacked. Comb. ¶spulyie-play (-ploy), a plundering frolic.Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 66:
Sair Harship and great Spulie.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley lxv.:
Officers cannot always keep the soldier's hand from depredation and spulzie.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. viii.:
It is spulzie wi' thee in three hand-claps.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 224:
Throughout Scotland there was joy And gladness at that spulyie-ploy.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales 117:
A time o' spulzie an' rieft.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 161:
Sic spoilzie, rapine, blood, and death.
Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 44:
The yin o' us'll mak' a spuilly.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 23:
They fand the hoose a' disjaskit, an' i' spullye.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 92:
A' thocht it was time His spulyie-play had gat an endin'.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xx.:
Ye'll find that Fraser himself's a victim of the spulzie.

2. Sc. Law, gen. spelt spuilzie: (1) in civil law: the taking away or meddling with the moveable goods of another without the owner's consent (Sc. 1946 A. D. Gibb Legal Terms 84); an action for the restitution of these goods. Hence phrs. action (decreet, deed, process) of spulzie. Such actions, though still competent, are in practice obsolete under the name.Dmf. 1712 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1902) 195:
Deed of Spuilzie before the Lords of Session at the instance of Wm. Armstrong in Bogside and John Irving of New Orchard against John Sharpe of Hoddom and others.
Sc. 1715 Morison Decisions 14730:
A process of spuilzie being intented at the tenant's instance . . . it was answered for the defender that action of spuilzie is only competent to the natural possessor.
Sc. 1742 in H. Miller Scenes and Leg. (1857) 316:
Anything they could have to depone anent the spulzie, would yield exactly the same result.
Sc. 1773 Erskine Institutes iv. i. § 15:
Spuilzie may be committed, not only by strangers, but even by the owner of the moveable goods carried off. . . . Spuilzie is not only competent against the spoliator, . . . but against all abbetors.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley lxvi.:
Decreet of spuilzie, oppression, and violent profits against them.
Sc. 1931 Encycl. Law Scot. XI. 530:
The action of spuilzie proceeded upon possession alone, and required no title in writ.
Sc. 1970 Sc. Law Times (20 Feb.) 36:
If we bother to keep the old name “spuilzie” then it seems best to restrict it to offences against possession and not to include denial of title.

†(2) in criminal law: an illegal seizure of another's goods, differing from theft, in being done openly with the intention of claiming them as one's own or of returning them after use.Rxb. 1707 Stitchill Ct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 157:
Amerciat in 5 lb. Scots for ane spuilzie in offering to take ane pott out of his brother's house forcibly.
Sc. 1730 W. Forbes Institutes II. i. 185:
In a criminal Trial for a Spulzie, it sufficeth to libel the oppressive Fact, which falleth under vindicta publica.
Sc. 1797 D. Hume Descr. Crimes I. 85:
If John carry off the goods of James by poinding, be the diligence ever so irregular, nay, though John's proceedings be even insidious and oppressive, still the taking in this form can never amount to theft or stouthrief, or other capital denomination of crime, but only to a spuilzie or oppression, which may be punishable at the discretion of the Court.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxvi.:
The acts of stouthrief and spulzie with which the “wolves of the hills” were charged.

3. Booty, spoil, plunder (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, spulze' 1808 Jam.; Bnff., Abd., Per. 1971).Sc. 1743 Scots Mag. (July) 341:
The deponent's dividend of the spulzie was only £18 Sterl.
Mry. 1882 J. F. S. Gordon Hist. Moray II. 319:
The spulzie taken or destroyed gives a good idea of the plenishing of a wealthy baron's residence in those days.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 122:
He got the spuilie to himsel' As they fled hame to toon.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 94:
Gif ye purloin my share o' spulzie.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xlviii.:
If you leave puir Berwick before he's sorted, to rin after spuilzie.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xv.:
Two excise officers lurking on the roadside, looking out for spuilzie!
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 47:
The rascal gat nae spulzie.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 258:
My faes may fecht me for the spuilzie.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 12:
That the spuilzie micht be shared, The victim to the Company was led.
Slg. 1935 W. D. Cocker Further Poems 77:
The reivin' rovers were na blate to gether spulzie in.

4. Jetsam, anything cast ashore (ne.Sc. c.1880 Gregor MSS.; Ork. 1971); odds and ends, trash, junk (Sh. 1971).

5. By extension: an uproar, fracas, commotion (Sh. 1971).Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 118:
Sheu hed heard the spullye.
Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 180:
Ivery man at's left alive 'ill hae ta tak twa wives. Dan dey'll be spullie.
Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 43. 23:
The bikk makes a spewlie among the hens.

[O.Sc. spulȝe, to plunder, 1375, spolȝe, spoliation, 1464, booty, 1507, an action for spoliation, 1678, O. Fr. espuille, spoil, espoillier, to plunder, ad. Lat. spolium, booty, spoil.]

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"Spulyie v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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