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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.

YORLIN, n. Also y(e)orling, yorline, -leen, yorlan(d) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), yorlyn (Rxb. 1825 J. Telfer Border Ballads 61); yarlin(g) (Bnff. 1880 J. F. S. Gordon Chron. Keith 280; Cai. 1901 County of Cai. 375; Uls. 1953 Traynor), yerlin (Abd. 1899 G. Greig Logie o' Buchan xiii.), yirlin (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Bwk. 1889 G. Muirhead Birds Bwk. I. 183); ¶yawling (Inv. c.1745 E. Grant Mem. Highl. Lady (Strachey 1928) 191). [′jorlɪn; ne.Sc. ′jɛr-, ′jɪr-] Very freq. prefixed with yalla. 1. The yellow-hammer, Emberiza citrinella (Gall., Rxb. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 139; Uls. 1910 C.C. Russell People and Lang. 50; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 276; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; n.Sc., Fif., em.Sc.(n), wm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1974). See also Yoldrin.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 4:
Frae 'mang the scrogs, the yorlins fly in cluds.
Slk. 1813 Hogg Poems (1874) 32:
It was only to hear the Yorlin sing.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xix.:
Making a man's legs at a distance look like a yellow yorline.
Bwk., Rxb. a.1840 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1885) 219 note:
Yellow, yellow yorlin, Drink a drap o' the deil's blude Ilka Monday morning.
Uls. 1875 D. Herbison Children of the Year 181:
On Ballygarvey's briary brae The lonely yorlan's singing.
Mry. 1889 J. Watson Wild Birds 29:
The yarlin' usually builds at the foot of a bush with the shelter of a tuft of tall grass.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 204:
The mavis, the merle, and the yorlin'.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Sangs 25:
The yorlin', the tit, and the wren.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 4:
A feelin-herteet yallih-yorleen.
Uls. 1951 E. E. Evans Mourne Country 80:
Perhaps the most characteristic birds are those which haunt the tall whins, none of them more conspicuous than the yellow-hammer (yellow yorling) which flaunts its bright spring plumage among the flaming whin bushes.

2. See quot.Ayr. a.1895 Scots Mag. (March 1969) 520:
The blue tunic with yellow facings and blue breeches with yellow side stripe that earned the Ayrshire Yeomanry their nickname “the yella yorlins.”

[Also in Eng. dial. Met. form of earlier yowlring. See note to Yoldrin.]

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"Yorlin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Dec 2023 <>



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