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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.

VIRL, n., v. Also virle, virrel(l), virol(e), virrol, -ul, verl, verrule (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Dim. form virlet. [vɪrl]

I. n. 1. A ferrule, a ring of metal, ivory or other material fitted round a wooden or occas. iron rod, cane, pipe, or the like to prevent splitting or fraying (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 273). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1707 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 459:
Boring the Kain, makeing a head and virrell to it.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. i. i.:
A winsome Flute, Of Plum-tree made, wi' Iv'ry Virles round.
Ork. 1757 Session Papers, Galloway v. Morton (12 Nov.) 113:
A Virrol, or Ring of Iron, on the End or Extremity of the long Arm.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Briggs of Ayr 83–4:
Five taper staves as smooth's a bead, Wi' virls an' whirlygigums at the head.
Sc. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 IX. 371:
The blade is set in a halft of Tortoise-shell, or stained horn, girt with silver virlets.
Sc. 180 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 45:
The virole of a ramrod having fallen into a musket.
s.Sc. 1835 T. T. Stoddart Art Angling 22:
The verls of [fishing-]rods when tight and swollen in the wood with rain or moisture.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 144:
Ye can mak' virrels for the drones o' your pipes oot o' my shank banes gin ye like.
Peb. 1964 Stat. Acc.3 54:
The mark of a well made crook is that the horn head should fit smoothly and without a break onto the stick, without any horn virrul to cover defective work.

2. Transf. A small narrow collar, a gorget.Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize II. viii.:
Master Knox wearing a virl of fur round his neck.

3. A ring or eddy in water, esp. that caused by the stroke of an oar (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1949 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 130:
How characteristic of the isleman's keen observation is an expression like virl, applied to the whirling motion of a streak of foam which follows the stroke of an oar.

II. v. To furnish with ferrules, to clasp round as if by a ferrule (Ork., Per. 1973).Dmf. 1816 Scots Mag. (May) 348:
Their principal stud consisted chiefly of broomsticks, “thrice warped i' the wun, and virl'd wi a dead man's banes”.
Ayr. 1833 Galt Howdie (1923) 118:
An Indian cane, virled with gold.
Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 110:
None thy joint can heal: It winna virrel, clasp, nor glue.
Gsw. 1895 A. Murdoch Readings ii. 128:
A prospective stick-leg, similar to the “fou” tailor's own iron-virled road-stamper.

[Older form of ferrule, ad. O.Fr. virelle, virol, Lat. viriola, dim. of viria, a bracelet. Rare and obs. in m.Eng. O.Sc. vyral, a ferrule, 1496.]

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"Virl n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Mar 2024 <>



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