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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

YILL, n., v. Also yell, yeal, yuill, yull (Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Among the Miners 203); yale. Sc. forms and usages of ale. See also Eel, n.2 [jɪl, jɛl, jʌl]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., in ordinary Sc. usage superseded by the word beer although ale is still the commoner drink in Sc. (wm., s.Sc., 1808 Jam.; Abd. 1891 Trans. Bch. Field Club II. 13; Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; m. and s.Sc. 1974).Sc. 1706 Sc. Antiquary XII. 100:
Our Yeal is to be raised to twa Groats the Pint.
Rxb. 1722 J. Wilson Hawick (1858) 67:
Payd John Scot, smith, for yell when the ded bell was mended.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 73:
For this gude sample o' your skill, I'm restin' you a pint o' yale.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To J. Smith xxii.:
Yill an' whisky gie to Cairds, Until they sconner.
Sc. 1818 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
My bit fee — and some brandy and yill to the drigie.
Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 109:
Baul' Bess, wha by the bass does dwell An' sells a dram an' pint o' yill.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller xvi.:
A saxpence to stand treat for a bottle o' yill.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sketches 108:
[She] loot them pree her yill an' kebbuck.
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Scotch Marriages I. vi.:
She'll bring in the Hollands and yale wi' the dishes o' tea.
e.Lth. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 149:
The fou yill barrels broach'd.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood iii.:
There's a good browst of yill.
wm.Sc. 1989 Anna Blair The Goose Girl of Eriska 178:
It was, as ever, a fine strong brew and Primrose but a novice drinker, so that by the time Eezie came out to the door to take in her ale, she not only found the tub very empty but the culprit very fou. ... 'Amiss! Your beast's made awa' wi' all my yill, that I'd set here to ripen. ... '

2. In phrs. and combs.: (1) dog's yill, any drink which has gone sour, esp. cold sour milk (wm.Sc. 1968); (2) fit yill, see Fit, n.1, III. 1., heather yill, see Heather, 5. (1); (3) New Year's yill, ale brewed specially for the New Year celebrations; †(4) yill-boat, an ale tub or -barrel (Bwk. 1825 Jam.). See Boat, n.1, 1.; (5) yill-browst, a brewing of ale. See Browst; (6) yill-ca(u)p, -cup, a drinking-bowl, gen. of wood or horn, for ale (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Also attrib. in yill-caup commentator, one who discusses public affairs over his ale, yill-caup een, wide saucer-like eyes; (7) yill-cart, a cart used for transporting ale-barrels; (8) yill-house, a public house, an ale-house (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); (9) yill-jawed, lit. ‘splashed with ale,' hence showing signs of drink, slightly tipsy. See Jaw, v., 2.; (10) yuill minister, see quot.; ¶(11) yill-seasoned, flavoured with ale, fig. inspired or affected by drinking; (12) yill-seller, a vendor of ale or drink in gen.; (13) yill-shop, = (8), a shop where non-spirituous liquor is sold; ¶(14) yill-wark, a brewery; (15) yill-wife, a woman who sold ale, gen. of her own brewing, in an ale-house (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Cld. 1880 Jam.).(3) Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 30:
There's the kirn to ca', chessels to fill, An' steep a maskin' for the New Year's Yill.
(4) Kcb. 1902 Gallovidian IV. 44:
Some of Lucky's favourite pastimes were — drowning anyone she had a spite at, by sinking a caup in the yill-boat in her kitchen.
(5) Edb. 1866 J. Smith Poems 54:
Aft hae I preed her yill-browst, sweet as gundy.
(6) Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair xviii.:
Now butt an' ben the change-house fills Wi' yill-caup commentators.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 13:
Peru . . . Where chiels wi' sooty skins an' yill-caup een Ha'e their abodes.
s.Sc. c.1830 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 63:
Wag-at-the-wa' was described by this old lady to have the appearanee of a grizzly-headed old man, with yell-cap eyes of a fiery colour.
(7) Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 115:
Berwick's yill-carts were asteer, Rumblin' wi' barls o' michtie beer.
(8) Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xiv.:
I never gang to the yillhouse — that is unless ony neighbour was to gie me a pint.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 35:
The coarsest night that cou'd hae blawn I at the yill-house door bid staun'.
Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 99:
She'd grip him at the yill-hoose door.
(9) Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
Hei's naither drunk nor yill-jaw'd.
(10) Sc. 18th c. H. G. Graham Social Life (1899) II. 41:
The appearance in the “tent” of a minister dry and “legal” was the signal for the bulk of the people to withdraw, and when he appeared to address a table there were hardly any could be coaxed by the elders to sit down to communicate. These preachers were vulgarly known as “yuill” (ale) ministers because during their services the people resorted to the ale barrels.
(11) Ayr. 1879 J. White Jottings 290:
Yill-seasoned haivers, Are no worth a plack.
(12) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 235:
Yuill-sellers shouldna be story tellers.
(13) Per. 1878 R. Ford Hame-spun Lays 96:
Sad victim o' the yill-shop.
Lnk. 1890 J. Coghill Poems 77:
Oot an' intil yill-shops they gaed.
(14) Rnf. 1813 G. Macindoe Wandering Muse 35:
Straught marches tween Chep's yill-wark an the moss.
(15) Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 59:
Ye're welcome, neighbour yill wives, here.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 46:
Yill-wives licker brisk decantet.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 135:
The yill wife wha lived in the corner.

II. v. To serve with or treat to ale (wm. Sc. 1825 Jam., “to denote one special mode in which a lover entertains his Dulcinea at a fair or market”). Ppl.adj. yilled, filled with ale, tipsy; vbl.n. yuillin, a treating, gen. of a girl, to ale.m.Lth. 1835 T. Watson Poems 41:
Being gay weel yill'd.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 206:
It was the fashion for lads tae tak their lasses intae the public hoose on the Sabbath-day, at twull-oors, tae get a bake an' a hue o' porter, or like o' tat ye ken, an' that was ca'd ‘yuillin'.'

[O.Sc. yeal, ale, 1691.]

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"Yill n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Apr 2024 <>



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