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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.

WHIRLIGIG, n. Also whirlie-, whurli-, -ly-, whirlijig (Gall. a.1897 R. Ringan's Plewman Cracks 23), whirlegeeg (Cai. 1961 “Castlegreen” Tatties an' Herreen' 23); extended forms whirligiggum, whirlgigum, whirlimagig (Ags. 1897 F. Mackenzie Northern Pine xvii.) (see Ma-, -Um). Sc. forms and usages. [′ʍʌrle(mə)gɪg(əm), -dʒɪg-]

1. As in Eng., a rotating contrivance. Specif. in Sc. usage: a revolving chimney cowl, a Grannie (m., s.Sc. 1974).Ayr. 1868 A. Mackay Ingleside Lilts 20:
Nae whirligigums grace They form o' sooty hue.
Edb. 1886 R. F. Hardy Katie iv.:
Auld rickles o' shools an' whurly-gigs.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 17:
The whirligigums squeak Abin the chimley-taps.

2. A spiral or fancy ornament, gewgaw, a piece of unnecessary finery, an intricate symbol, design or diagram. Gen.Sc.Ayr. 1787 Burns Brigs of Ayr 84:
Wi virls an' whirlygigums at the head.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 184:
Their powder'd wigs, Their gaudy ruffles, and their whirlie-gigs.
Inv. 1856 J. Horne Poems 23:
To see me riding to sic a place Wi' whirligiggums on my plaid.
Uls. 1898 A. McIlroy Auld Meetin'-Hoose Green 52:
Twa-three letters an' figures an' whurligigs wi' a bit chalk on the face o' a dor'.

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



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