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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.

SWINGLE, v.1, n. Also sungle (Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 6, 1825 J. Ross Sermon 26). [swɪŋl] As in Eng., to scutch flax by beating it; also dial. the beater of a flail (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Sc. usages in combs. with swingle-, swingling-: 1. swingle-hand, swingling-hand, and reduced forms (by confusion with lint) swinglind, -lint, a swingle, a flat stick for beating flax (Rxb. 1825 Jam., swing-lint, swingling-hand); 2. swingling-post, a block of wood on which flax was laid to be scutched; 3. Swingling-stake, id.; 4. swingling-stock, id., “an upright board about three feet in height, morticed into a foot or stock, over which flax is held while it is beaten by the swingling-hand” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); 5. swingle-tree, as in Eng., the bar in a plough- or carriage-draught to which the traces are attached; also (1) the free arm or beater of a flail (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Abd. 1904 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 341; I.Sc. 1972). Cf. Eng. dial. swingle, id.; (2) = 2. (Dmf. 1825 Jam.); (3) = sweir-tree s.v. Sweir, I. 1. (9), a swingle-tree being freq. used for the purpose (ne.Sc., Fif., Lnk. 1972); 6. swingle-wand, = 1. (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).1. Rxb. 1806 J. Hogg Poems 72:
They laid sae fast upon the boards, The swinglinds gaed like horseman's swords.
2. s.Sc. 1900 Scotsman (23 Oct.):
In some cases a swingling-post sloping slightly was firmly fixed in the barn floor. The lint was held over it in the left hand, while with the right hand a sharp sword-shaped stick was brought down rapidly over the hanging stalks. When the swingling was done in the garret of the ploughman, an ordinary “dog” took the place of the swingling post.
3. Dmf. 1827 Carlyle Ger. Romance I. 39:
Spinning-wheel and reel, swingling-stake and hatchel.
5. (1) Sc. 1858 P. L. Simmonds Dict. Trade Products:
Swingle-tree, in Scotland the striking end of a flail.
Uls. 1907 Country-side (16 Nov.) 27:
The handle or “hand-staff” [of the flail] was held in the hands, and the beater, or “swingle-tree” was swung round behind the head.
(3) Abd. 1971 Fraserburgh Herald (16 July) 7:
You was a fair hand at ruggin' the swingle-tree.

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"Swingle v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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