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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.

WEASEL, n. Also weazel, -le, -ille, wezil (Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake (1874) 14), waizel (Rxb. 1828 Hist. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1922) 37); wheasel (Ayr. 1838 J. Morrison McIlwham Papers 13; m.Sc. 1922 J. Buchan Huntingtower viii.), wheesel (Fif. c.1920 R. Holman Sc. Sketches 36; Slg., Fif., em.Sc. (b), wm. and s.Sc. 1973), whezle (Lth. 1825 Jam.), whaizle, whaisel (Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs of the Fields 25; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), whaasel (Edb. 1888 Trans. Edb. Naturalists' Club 168). Sc. forms and usages. [wi:zl; Rxb. wezl; em., wm., s.Sc. + hwizl, hwezl]

1. As in Eng. in combs. weasel-blawing, vbl.n., weasel-blawn, ppl.adj., (affected by) an unexplained or indeterminate ailment, supposed to be caused by the breath or hiss of a weasel, and hence used in ppl.adj. in a vague pejorative sense as an epithet for an unpleasant-looking ill-natured sort of person (see quots.).Rxb. 1801 J. Leyden Complaynt 319:
Another distemper, termed weazle-blawing, which gives the skins of dogs a cadaverous yellow hue, and makes their hair bristle on end, and is supposed to be caused by the breath of the weazle.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vi.:
Wha ir ye I say, ye bit useless weazel-blawn like urf that ye're?
Slk. 1824 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xii.:
The ill-hued weazel-blawn thing of a brother never missed an opportunity of gieing me a yerk wi' his ill-scrapit tongue.
Kcb. 1879 66th Report Brit. Ass. 467:
Sometimes the nose of a cow, stot, or calf will swell. The animal is said to be ‘weasel-blawn.' It is supposed the swelling is caused by the bite of an adder.

2. The stoat, Mustela erminea (Sc. 1818 Scots Mag. (May) 426). The stoat and the weasel are not always distinguished in Sc. or Eng. dial. but the stoat is sometimes referred to in Sc. as a Stoat-weasel, q.v.

3. A sharp, restless, prying, sneaky person. Used as a nickname in 1857 quot. Also in comb. weasel-body, id.m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 271:
Sin' that mornin' the Whaizle fell in the big kirn, when he was up in the bauks watchin' to see if ou was stealin' the butter.
Gall. 1900 R. Muir Mystery Muncraig xiii.:
I asked them to turn Sandy Latheron, the weasel body, on to the case.

[Aspirated forms are found in Sc. from the 15th c., O.Sc. quhasill, c.1480, poss. by association with wheeze, wheezle, O.N. hvæsa, to hiss, from the spitting sound made by the animal when cornered.]

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"Weasel n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Feb 2024 <>



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