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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WABBLE, v., n., adj., adv. Also -el, wable (Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 29), waible (Rxb. 1883 T. Chapman Contentment 205), wauble. Deriv. wab(b)lie (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205; Abd. 1930 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 378), wabbly (Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Lowland Hills 66), wobbly, unsteady, shaky; of a golf-club: springy, flexible (Edb. 1887 W. G. Simpson Art of Golf 92). [wɑbl; s.Sc. ‡webl]

I. v. 1. As in Eng., to wobble. In Sc. specif. in reference to walking unsteadily, to stagger, totter, rock on one's feet, waddle (Peb., Cld. 1825 Jam., waible, wabble; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., waible; Sh., ne.Sc., m. and s.Sc. 1973). Adv. wabblingly.Ayr. 1786 Burns To Auld Mare vii.:
Ye ran tham till they a' did wauble, Far, far behin'.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 59:
A kail blade buried in the earth, Raise and cam wablin' in.
Fif. 1812 W. Tennant Anster Fair 56:
And flea-bit wives, . . . Wabblingly walk to see the joyous show.
Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 88:
Baith sick an sair I wabbel'd hame at last.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 60:
Creatures waublin on their whames.
e.Lth. 1889 J. Lumsden Lays 78:
In the coorts the nowt did wauble To the shed-mooths, ruminating.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong R. Rankine at Exhibition 1:
Folk wha hae eneuch to mak' en's meet and a wee bit wabblin ahint.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 369:
An' aye they [geese] coost their heids fu' heigh, an' booed their wintlin' backs, A-waublin', an' a-rowin', like rusky fishin'-smacks.

2. To wriggle about (Sh., Ags. 1973).Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 95:
I saw the muckle troot wabblin' in the water.

3. tr. To stammer out, to blurt or mumble in a halting or indistinct way.Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. x.:
He gaed roon to the maister and began to wauble something to him aboot my conduct.

II. n. 1. The act of walking with difficulty through weakness (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205).

2. Wishy-washy, tasteless, liquid food or drink (Ib.; Abd. 1973). Deriv. wabblie, wishy-washy, thin (ne., em.Sc. (a), Dmb., Lnk., Wgt. 1973). Cf. also penny wabble s.v. Penny, n., 4. (38).Abd. 1899 Private MS.:
Nae penny wabble, stale an' sour But gweed maut ale wi' pith and power.
Abd. 1943 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 358:
It'll do you more good than that wabble of milk.
Abd. 1949:
That tay's awfa wabblie.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick viii.:
“Peer wabble, peer wabble.” . . . “Haith Andra ye've said 'e trowth. . . . Gie me a wacht fae Ale Annie's at Funnyfaal.”

III. adj. 1. Slender, easily shaken (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205).

2. Wishy-washy, having a weak and watery flavour (Ib.).

IV. adv. With a weak tottering step, tremulously (Ib.).

[The form wabble is also reg. in Eng. till the early 19th c., L.Ger. wabbelen, to sway, waddle, mill about.]

Wabble v., n., adj., adv.

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"Wabble v., n., adj., adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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