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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid

DAIDLE noun a bib or pinafore

Daidle or daidlie is rather long windedly defined in the Dictionary of the Scots Language as: “A pinafore, a cloth put on the breast of a child, to keep it clean during the time of eating, a larger sort of bib”. 

 

Although word is marked as obsolescent in the DSL one of our informants reminded me of it only last week. 

 

Examples in the DSL seem to describe an apron as in the following from D J Beattie’s Oor Gate-en’ published in 1915: “In the distance micht be seen, here and there, the pink an white dadles o’ the bairns getherin blaeberries.” However, the following example from John Firth’s Reminiscences of an Orkney Parish (1920) describing how children were dressed seems to indicate a pinafore: “The plain gown of printed cotton or wincey reached almost to the ankles, and over it was worn a small square apron, the “fented dedley” (gored pinafore) only coming into fashion later.” 

 

The pinafore seems to have been worn by children of both sexes as in the memories of a man writing in the Aberdeen People’s Journal of February 1863: “…but especially the days when I was a wee callant with a daidly at Dominie Duncan school…” 

 

Into the 1930s daidlies were still known in the compound ‘daidly-apron’ which seems to have been a much more heavy-duty canvass apron.

 

As with many Scots words the etymology is unclear but DSL suggests it may come from the English dialect word ‘dowly’ a washing rag.

  

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries  "http://www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk" www.scotsdictionaries.org.uk, 25 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LN (0131) 650 4146 mail@scotsdictionaries.org.uk.