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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.

WUMMLE, n., v. Also wum(m)el(l), wum(b)le, wum(m)ill; wommle, womel(l), wommil, wombill (Ork. 1734 P. Ork. A.S. (1925) I. 65); wimle, wimmel; whummil, whummle, whomle. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. wimble. [wʌml]

I. n. 1. An auger, gimlet (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Ork. 1958 Ork. Herald (25 Feb.) 3; I., ne.Sc., Per., Slk. 1974). Now only dial. in Eng.Sc. 1703 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 324:
To him for the 2 womells helping to tonie.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 192:
His words they brodit like a wumill, Frae ear to ear.
Ayr. 1786 Burns On a Sc. Bard iv.:
He was as gleg as onie wumble.
Sc. 1859 Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 225:
Tak your ellwands, your elshins, or wummills.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 82:
He had . . . a lang brog or wummle to take a potatoe out of a cow's throat.
Abd. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (23 Jan.) 8:
Farm “teels”, like tweeslicks, wummels, and perhaps a sweerkitty or two.

Phrs. and combs.: (1) heat a wummle, a game with a young child held on the knee (see 1905 quot.); (2) wummlebore, (i) an auger-hole (ne.Sc., Per., Fif. 1974); (ii) a cleft-palate (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif. 1909 Colville, whummle-; Rxb. 1920, whummel-: em.Sc.(a) 1974); (3) wummle-hole, = (2)(ii) (Slg. 1964).Gsw. 1842 Whistle-Binkie 2:
I'll “heat a wummil” — a far better plan.
m.Lth. 1858 Dark Night xxii.:
If ye saw him at the very height o' his merriment, get him yokit tae play at heat a wumble.
Bnff. 1905 E.D.D.:
Nurses used to amuse infants on the knee by sitting in front of the fire holding the forefinger as if to heat it, and then pretending to bore a hole in the infant's breast or belly, repeating the words ‘Heat a womill, heat a womill. Bore, bore, bore.'
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. v. 162:
Hate a wimble, hate a wimble, Bore a hole, bore a hole. Whaur piece, whaur piece, In his puggie, in his puggie. The above rhyme was accompanied by a circular motion of the forefinger, ending by poking the child in the ribs or stomach.
(2) (i) Wgt. 1711 Session Rec. Kirkinner MS. (15 April):
Janet Duns, his daughter, was carried prisoner to Glasgow and befor she was carried there had her fingers brunt with fiery matches and wedged into wimble bores.
Per. 1761 Session Papers, Macgregor v. Small (14 Feb.) 28:
[He] found the Wimble-bores therein had been mangled, or marred by an Ax.
Abd. 1820 A. Skene Poems 70:
Thence honest-hearted Trustwell's door Was pierc'd wi' mony a womble bore.
Sc. 1825 The Whummil Bore in Child Ballads No. 27. ii.:
I saw her thro a whummil bore And I neer got a sight of her no more.
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Tales 259:
Up troo a runnick, doon troo a lum, or in troo a wumble bore.
Gall. a.1900 “Mulciber Veritatis” Gallowa' Herds 6:
His circumstances “were that ticht, he was joost as if he were jammed in a wumel bore.”
Sh. 1960 Scottish Studies IV. 177:
Whit can win in tru a whomlie bore Yit canna com oot tru an ox byre door? — The Sun.
(ii) Ags. c.1880 Sc. Daily Mail (22 June 1949):
The puir laddie has a whummle-bore.

2. A drill for boring through soil and rock for coal, water, etc. (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 73, wumble). Also in n.Eng. mining usage.Rxb. 1729 Sc. Hist. Review V. 272:
Handles, wimles and ropes for boring for coal.
Slg. 1733 Slg. Burgh Rec. (1889) 359:
Womells to bore the Backraw well.

3. A circular boring motion like that of an auger, a twist.Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 162:
She gied her thumb a wee bit wum'le [to squash a flea].

4. Transf. The gullet (Kcd. 1825 Jam., wimmel).

II. v. To bore, make a boring motion.Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd iii. ii.:
Charley, the youngest, felt something like a man's finger wimbling in under his neck.
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 372:
There baith began to bore and wummle, And bits cam' oot as big's a thummle.

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"Wummle n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Feb 2024 <>



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