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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STUIL, n., v. Also stule (Edb. 1866 J. Smith Merry Bridal 12; Ags. 1887 A.D. Willock Rosetty Ends 125; Lnl. 1896 Poets Lnl. (Bisset) 98; Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 8), †stewle (Slk. 1825 Jam.), stöl, stül, steul (Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 38, 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 28); stil(l) (Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 63; Lnk. 1923 W. Queen We're a' Coortin 33; Wgt. 1939 J. McNeillie Wgt. Ploughman vi.); steel (Abd. 1901 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 19; Mry. 1856 W. H. Tester Poems 146; ne.Sc. 1971), dim. steelie (Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 8). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. stool (Ayr. 1879 R. Adamson Lays 47, Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxix). See P.L.D. §§ 35, 128. [støl, stɪl; ne.Sc. stil]

I. n. 1. A chair with a back, specif. the type with a back and freq. also a canopy made of woven straw and manufactured in Orkney (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1971), also comb. back-stuil, id. (Ork. 1971).Ork. 1905 Orcadian Papers (Charleson) 41:
Last and largest comes the high-backed or “heeded stül.” This stool was at one time the easy chair of the Orkney cottage.
Ork. 1968 M. A. Scott Island Saga 82:
The best known of all uses [of straw] . . . the making of an “Orkney Chair,” or “strae-backit steul.”

2. The bench or form on which an offender against church discipline sat to be rebuked before the congregation, the stool of Repentance. Hist. Combs. stool-dues, -mail, -meal, a fine imposed on such an offender in addition to or in lieu of having to sit on the stool.Abd. 1701 Aberdour Records (Cramond 1896) 47:
The Session to appoint a four nooked big stool to be made of an ell high to stand in the mids of the floor.
Sc. 1776 Dundee Weekly Mag. I. No. 24. 4:
Ye who are now dreading the sentence of stool-meal.
Ayr. 1795 Burns Gude Ale iii.:
Gars me moop wi' the servant hizzie, Stand i' the stool when I hae dune.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 58:
No to parsons be a tell-tale Upon chaps that's won the steel.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 78:
The louns ca' out, wha sing the Psalm, “Room i' the Stool for Galloway Tam!”
Per. 1836 G. Penny Traditions 161:
In the East Church was placed the cutty or repenting stool, or rather the seat of the unvirtuous, on which many unfortunates were forced to mount in sackcloth, besides paying the stool dues.
Sc. 1837 Voluntary Church Mag. (Nov.) 493:
Its owner would not pay the stool-mail for having had a bastard child.

3. A trestle (ne. and em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Rxb. 1971).Ayr. 1870 J. K. Hunter Life Studies 282:
Nae word o' John comin' wi' the pokes and stools.

4. The solum or foundation of a peat-bog, what remains after the peat has been removed.Bnff. 1763 V. Gaffney Lordship Strathavon (S.C.) 43:
The stool of the moss when cast out to belong to the Duke without burden or servitude.

5. (1) As in Eng., the cluster of new shoots coming from the base of a plant which has had its stem cut away. Comb. stuil-bent, stool-, the heath-rush, Juncus squarrosus, noted for the proliferation of its basal leaves (Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 1131; Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 474; Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 199; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 155; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in reduced form †stoole.Ayr. 1756 Session Papers, Earl of Crauford v. Ralston (6 Dec.) 15:
Some Grass, and Storle [sic], or long, thin Grass, that usually grows in the Water.
Sc. 1890 H. Stephens Bk. Farm IV. 437:
In September and October, “prie” and “stool-bent” come up.

(2) A matted bed or sole of vegetation, esp. thick, dense grass roots (Ork. 1929 Marw.; Sh. 1971). Also fig. of the beard.Sc. 1831 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) III. 327:
Black-a-viced, wi' a great stool o' a beard.

6. (1) The stubble-end of a sheaf of corn (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), støl, Sh. 1971). Cf. Norw. dial. styl, stjøl, id.; (2) the foundation of a corn-rick or haystack (Slk. 1825 Jam., stewle). The form suggests influence from Cum. dial. Cf. also Stale, n.1

7. = Eng. -stall in finger-stall, head-stall, by conflation with the reg. form stall, reduced in unstressed position to [-stɪl] and so confused with stuil (n.Sc. (steel), em., wm. and s.Sc. 1971). See Finger, n., 5., and Stiel.Sc. 1707 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) 19:
For a good string bridle £1 2s., for head steels, etc. £1 12s.
Abd. 1961 People's Jnl. (3 June) 8:
A caird wi' finger steels.

8. Phr. dab-at-the-stool, pepper and salt (Slg., Ayr. 1971). See Dab, v.1, n.1, III. 2.Rnf. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 157:
Pitatties . . . weel kitchened wi' “dab-at-the-stool.”

II. v. In vbl.n. stooling, timber used in making props or supports.Fif. 1751 Session Papers, Petition J. Robertson (6 Jan. 1758) 15:
To furnish cradling and stooling and timber of the lodges.
Knr. 1753 Session Papers, Petition J. Kelties (2 March) 2:
To draw Mill-stones and Stooling thereto.

[O.Sc. penitent stull, 1562, stuling, of a mill, 1558, stoole, to prop, 1657.]

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"Stuil n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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