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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

THORL, n. Also thorle. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. whorl: 1. As in Eng.; a small fly-wheel on the spindle of a spinning wheel to maintain or regulate the speed (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); a small wheel used in various mechanisms.Slg. 1804 G. Galloway Poems 15:
The lass is frugal, eident turns the thorle.
Fif. 1835 R. Gilfillan Songs 216:
Our auld timer clock, wi' thorl an' string.

Hence combs.: thorle-pear, a variety of pear; thorle-pippin, a variety of apple (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.), so called from their shapes.Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 117 note:
A single tree of the thorle pear at Melrose, has for these 50 years past yielded the interest of the money paid for the garden where it stands, and for a house let at 7 L. Sterling yearly.

2. A part of the mechanism of a patent sward-cutter set on a kind of harrow frame (see quot.).Sc. 1788 Abridgement of Specifications, Agric. Div. i. (1876) 20:
The “bulls” are kept at their proper distance apart by means of “hollow pieces of wood, called thorles, three and one half inches long, which inclose the bolt.”

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"Thorl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Jun 2023 <>



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