"Fuddle", meaning sexual congress

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Sat Sep 29 13:57:56 UTC 2007

I wonder if this is not a misplacement in the 
Scottish Nationl Dictionary. It is the last entry 
for "fuddle" (to get drunk on, etc...) but the 
next entry (for "crumpled") is perhaps a more 
likely sense of the bell quote. See below.


Ý2. tr. To get drunk on, to drink the price or 
proceeds of. Also to spend (time) in drinking.
     *Abd. 1845 P. Still Cottar's Sunday 48:
     [He] aften left his hame to fuddle Days, an' weeks, an' months awa.
     *Edb. 1851 A. Maclagan Sketches 182:
     Ye're like a house without its thack, An' yet ye'll fuddle ilka plack!
     *Gsw. 1868 J. Young Poems 79:
     The vera coals ye've ta'en, Mary, An' fuddl't them aff haun.
     *Sc. 1904 in R. Ford Vagabond Songs 217:
     They hangit their minister, droon'd their 
precentor, Dang doun the steeple, and fuddled the 
     Ý3. To crumple, crush.
     *Sc. 1696 True Relation of an Apparition in Rerrick 10:
     She . . . found seven small bones . . . all 
closed in a piece of Old fuddled Paper.

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>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>Subject:      Re: "Fuddle", meaning sexual congress
>Another additional datum:  Wikipedia claims for "fuddle duddle"
>"a euphemistic substitution for "fuck" or "fuck off", whose most
>famous use was by Pierre Trudeau when he was Prime Minister of Canada.
>"In February 1971, a minor scandal arose when opposition MPs accused
>Trudeau of having mouthed, "Fuck off," at them in the House of
>Commons. When pressed by television reporters on the matter, Trudeau
>denied having mouthed "Fuck off" (much less actually spoken it, or
>anything at all) at the times in question, but freely admitted having
>moved his lips; and he answered the question, "What were you
>thinking, when you moved your lips?" by rhetorically asking, "What is
>the nature of your thoughts, gentlemen, when you say 'fuddle duddle'
>or something like that?" Trudeau likely took "fuddle duddle" from the
>official Hansard transcript of his words for that parliamentary
>session. Seemingly the Hansard reporter either read Trudeau's
>lip-movements differently than the accusing MPs or read them likewise
>but chose to write down the now-notorious words in their stead."
>Perhaps someone should interview the Hansard transcriber: from where
>did he get "fuddle duddle"?  And is his ancestry Scots?  (Although I
>would simply assume that the parish "confused" -- "muddled" -- the
>bell, which is how it might ring as the steeple was brought down.)
>At 9/29/2007 07:07 AM, you wrote:
>>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
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
15C Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
preston at msu.edu

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

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