"Fuddle", meaning sexual congress

Geoff Nathan geoffnathan at WAYNE.EDU
Sat Sep 29 11:07:48 UTC 2007

There is an old Scottish song (The Terrible Parish), which includes the
following lines:

Oh, what a parish, a terrible parish
Oh, what a parish is that o' Dunkel';
They hangit their minister, droon'd their precentor,
Dang doon the steeple and fuddled the bell.

The OED and the Online Dictionary of the Scots Language both claim
'fuddle' means to get drunk, both in English and in Scots (hence,
'befuddled', which has lost its alcoholic connotation).  But I've always
been puzzled why someone would get a bell drunk.  Still, the idea that
they had intercourse with the bell makes no more sense...
Just a small additional datum..

The song, sung by Andy Stewart and Phil Cunningham, is on an old
compilation album, Flight of the Green Linnet.

Geoffrey S. Nathan
Computing and Information Technology and Department of English
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI, 48202
geoffnathan at wayne.edu
C&IT Phone (313) 577-1259
English Phone (313) 577-8621

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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