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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.

YERL, n. Also yearl (Crm. 1854 H. Miller Schools 310; Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 84), yirl (Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. II. 175; Dmf. 1912 J. & R. Hyslop Langholm 682; Mry. 1947 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 218); yarl (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.); yorl (Ags. 1932 A. Gray Arrows 98). Sc. forms of Eng. earl (Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvii., Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie lxii.; Per. 1879 P. R. Drummond Bygone Days 192, Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant i.; s.Sc. 1974). See Y, letter, 2.(2). The Sh. form represents the corresponding O.N., Norw. jarl. Phr. the Yerl o' Hell, (1) the Devil (Sh., m. and s.Sc. 1974); (2) a name for any wild lawless character applied hist. to various persons. See quots. and Earl o' hell. [jɛrl; Sh. jɑrl](1) Sc. 1935 D. Rorie Lum Hat 22:
Till he's passed his word as Yerl o' Hell He'd herry him nae mair.
(2) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 497:
Yerl o' Hell. The Laird o' Slagarie; one of the wildest wretches ever known in the world.
m.Sc. 1898 J. Buchan John Burnet iii. xvii.:
Little Will Ruthven, that's him that they ca' the Yerl o' Hell for his deevilry.

[O.Sc. yerle, a.1400.]

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"Yerl n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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