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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TAIGLE, v., n. Also taigel, †teagle, ¶teigle, ta(i)ggle. [tegl]

I. v. 1. (1) tr. To tangle, confuse, entangle, muddle (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., m. and s.Sc. 1972), to tangle a fishing line (Ags. c.1920). Ppl.adj. taiglt, taiglit, taigled.Gsw. 1898 Gsw. Ballad Club (Ser. 2) 203:
Ane tup and ane wedder Wi' ane tow they're taigled togedder.
Sc. 1923 R. Macrailt Hoolachan 14:
A taigl't lot o' interfering trash!
Sc. c.1925 R. Thomas Sandie McWhustler's Waddin' 42:
Whan he happent athort a boat whilk was lyin' tapsalteerie an' taigled wi' the brainches o' a laighlyin' tree.
Sc. 1926 H. M'Diarmid Drunk Man 78:
It's like a wab in which the warld Squats like a spider, quhile the mune and me Are taigled in an endless corner o't.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 18:
An' than a gouff o' caller air Liftit his clammy taiglt hair.
Per., wm.Sc. 1970:
Ma tongue's taigled ma taes or feet, I have spent too much time talking.
Dundee 1989 W. N. Herbert in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 94:
Whan thi sel's a taiglit threid that trails
across thi mony-layirt fisses o thi land

(2) tr. and intr. To catch (the clothes) or be caught or hooked on some sharp point or the like.Edb. 1897 W. Beatty Secretar iv:
Ye taigled your gown on a nail.
Ags. c.1920:
I've taiglt on a nail, taiglt my breeks on a nail.

2. To detain, keep back, hinder, harass, trammel, get in the way of (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 271; m.Sc. 1972).Sc. 1812 The Scotchman 23:
They rin less risk o' being taigelt by the gait.
Slk. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 150:
Geordie was sae mad at Matthew for taigling him, an' garring him tine the fish.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. ii.:
Many a bitter ban they gave him for taigling them so long.
Ags. 1851 R. P. Gillies Memoirs I. 88:
A sheaf o' John Brand's bank-notes that only taigles me to carry.
Lnk. 1862 D. Wingate Poems 40:
What's taigled ye the night? You're surely late a wee.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xviii.:
Ye juist want to taigle me here till your fine friend gets the lass.
Lnk. 1935 Proc. Sc. Anthrop. & Folk-Lore Soc. III. 81:
“Taiglin' the water,” — impeding its flow down hill by changing its course or direction in order to conserve the soil and to prevent its being carried away by the force of the running water.
Gsw. 1950 H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 94:
Away ye go an' no' let me taigle ye.
Edb. 1967:
I was asked to go with them but didnae want to be taigled with other folk.

Hence (1) taiglement, n., delay, cause of delay; (2) taiglesome, -sum, adj., time-consuming, retarding, causing delay (Slg., wm.Sc., Wgt. 1972); (3) taiglin, (i) vbl.n., a hindrance, delay, or cause of delay (Lnk. 1880 Jam.); (ii) ppl.adj., delaying, hampering; (4) tagglit, adj., harassed with anything, encumbered, drudged (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) phr. to taigle the cleek, in coal-mining: to impede the haulage and output of the pit (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 66); hence in gen. to hold things up, hinder progress (Fif., w.Lth., Lnk., Ayr. 1972). to slack, “swing the lead”. See Cleek, n.1, 1.(7).(1) Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life III. 271:
It'll be a rough-spun house about our teiglement the nicht.
Sc. 1834 Chambers's Jnl. (Feb.) 25:
Geordie seemed determined to resist all taiglements.
(2) Sc. 1825 Jam.:
A taiglesum road, a road which is so deep, or so hilly, that one makes little progress.
Sc. 1829 Caled. Mercury (5 Oct.):
The weather was frequently showery, and very taiglesome for harvest work.
Ayr. 1836 J. Ramsay Woodnotes (1848) 47:
An' mony mae the scene hae sought, Owre taiglesome to mention.
Dmf. 1912 Scotsman (26 Jan.):
It's a taiglesome journey this, mem.
(3) (ii) s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 365:
Teaglin' bus'ness winna yet allow.
(5) Lnk. 1951 People's Journal (7 April):
“So-and-So was taiglin' the cleeck,” which means shirking one's work.

3. tr. To tire, make weary, fatigue (Lnk. 1880 Jam.). Hence taigled, taiglt. ppl.adj., tired, wearied; taiglesome, -sum, adj., wearisome, tiring, tedious (Dmf. 1912; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; em.Sc.(b), wm.Sc., Wgt., Rxb. 1972).Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xvi.:
As Duinhè-wassal was a wee taiglit, Donald should send ta curragh.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 194:
An' taigl't age now totters in, Though he can scarcely hougel.
Sc. 1876 S. Whitehead Daft Davie 87:
She went out early and returned late. weary and “taiglet.”

4. tr. To confound or get the better of in an argument, to quiz, bamboozle, to outsmart; to perplex (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Lth., Dmf. 1972); to master (a problem).Dmf. 1874 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 298:
Two irreverent young fellows determined, as they said, to “taigle” the minister.
wm.Sc. 1891 N. Dickson Kirk Beadle 55:
I'll taigle Andra if he meddles wi' ye.
Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 88:
Taigle them, Tam! an' be nae spairin' On that teuch doctrine — Trinitarian!
s.Sc. 1896 Border Mag. (April) 56:
Ecce filius Dei. Let me hear you laddies taigle that passage.

5. To delay, linger, dawdle, wait (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Slg., wm.Sc., Kcb. 1972); with after, wi': to dally in the company of, to hang around, follow about (esp. a woman). Vbl.n. taiglin, delay, lingering.Sc. 1794 J. Grahame Poems 103:
Awa wi' teaglin, and the euk O' stappin mair in your poke neuk.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 11:
He ne'er again, at kirk or fair, Durst ever wi' her taigle mair.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxii.:
Do ye think Mr. Keelevin has nothing mair to do than to wait for us, while ye're talking profanity, and taigling at this gait?
Sc. 1827 G. R. Kinloch Ballads 161:
He has taigelt wi' the fair may, And of her he speir'd na leave.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 461:
Wi' your taigling and prejinctness.
Sc. 1892 Stevenson Catriona vii.:
A man that comes taigling after a Macgregor's daughter.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 154:
Ilka Friday nicht lang he taigles wi' me.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 115:
I winna taigle, if you think we can get awa'.
em.Sc. 1920 J. Black Airtin' Hame 52:
We taigle at anterin times ower lang Wi' smouty and little-worth things.
m.Sc. 1933 W. Muir Mrs Ritchie xxiv.:
No man could get on with his work if a bairn was taiglin after him.
wm.Sc. 1943 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 438:
The kitlin' 'at was taiglin' at ma tail.

6. tr. and intr. To drag (the feet) slowly and heavily,  to walk along slowly, to take halting steps, to drag along. Ppl.adj. taiglin, of the feet: dragging, halting.Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xviii.:
Ye shall taigle many a weary foot, or we get clear.
Sc. 1892 Stevenson Catriona xix.:
Annie and her two sisters had to taigle home by theirselves.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 53:
He'll airt, an' kep oor trimlin, taiglin feet.
Arg. 1992:
I'd tae taigle him wi me. [referring to her young son whom she took about with her on postal delivery]

II. n. 1. A hindrance, delay, or cause of delay (Lnk. 1880 Jam.).

2. A tangle, a muddle (em.Sc., Wgt., Rxb. 1972); a tangled fishing line.wm.Sc. 1925 D. Mackenzie Macmorro's Luck 26:
The fisher's taigles, — or the poacher's jinks!
Ags. 1930 A. Kennedy Orra Boughs xxxi.:
He sees life as a taigle o' threids.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 26:
Whit gars the act is aft
a Gordian knot that aince haggert
leaves but a taigle squirmin on the grund
like streekit worms that dee in cauld rain
Abd. 1998 Sheena Blackhall The Bonsai Grower 75:
Twis a taigle o aspen an willow, a snorrel o nettle an ivy, a dubby, glaury hole the like o fit anely a soor, dour warlock wad chuise tae bide in, ...

3. A ruffle so as to make untidy (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

4. An idle lounging person, a dawdling slut (Kcd. 1972).Ags. 1930 A. Kennedy Orra Boughs xxxvi.:
A drukken taigle o' a wummin.

[O.Sc. taigle, to entangle, a.1585, teagle, to hinder, 1635, North. Mid.Eng. tagil, to tangle, encumber, prob. of Scand. orig. N.E.D. compares Swed. dial. taggla, to disorder, disarrange, prob. cogn. with tail and Tag. A nasalised form appears in Tangle, v.]

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"Taigle v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 May 2024 <>



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