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Scots Language Centre Centre for the Scots Leid





This lovely word is described in the Dictionaries of the Scots Language (DSL) as


“the viscera of an animal, entrails of a fowl, the pluck ...”.



An early example comes from the Account Book of Sir John Foulis (1702):


“for a syde of lamb ... 1.0.0 ... for harigalls and head ... 0.6.0”.


To translate; a side of lamb cost £1 and the harrigals and head together cost six shillings. The latter was generally used to make sheep-heid broth, sausages and puddings such as haggis.


Burns used it plaintively of himself in a letter of 1787:


“If my harrigals were turn’d out, ye wad see twa nicks I’ the heart o’ me”.



In Mang Howes and Knowes (published in 1925), Elliot C Smith described feuding Borderers:


“Scots an Ingleesh in a fraineeshin, fidgin mad-keen ti teer the harrigals oot o other”.



This amusing snippet comes from the Fifeshire Advertiser (1872), describing the distribution of the parts of a lamb:


“… the laird o the manor is to ha’ the first quarter, the provost is to ha’ the second quarter; and the minister is to ha’ the third quarter; the head and the harigals goes to the bailie”.



Matthew Fitt used it more recently in his poem The Baxter’s Van (2003):


“his ambulance, stapped wi baps, rolls, bannocks, Skitters on the causey stanes an shoogles The bomb-shards in his wame. He hoasts, panics As peerie dauds fae his thrawn … tweed Skails slow venom intil his harigals; An in his neb, the reek o fresh-baked breid.”


This Scots Word of the Week was written by Pauline Cairns Speitel, Dictionaries of the Scots Language