Sometimes you just wish a word was more commonly used. A frampler is, according to the Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL,, “a rowdy, quarrelsome person”, but there is only one witness given: Sir Walter Scott, in The Monastery (1820). The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) adds one more-recent citation from The Guardian (1987), putting an imaginary line into the mouth of the then-distinguished Edinburgh MP Malcolm Rifkind: “The Honourable Member … is a frampler, a gabnash and a bletherskite, who has probably been on the rammle.”

The noun frample is recorded in a couple of 19th-century Ayrshire sources, meaning “a confused mass, a tangle”, and there is even a “chiming” adverb frimple-frample “in a confused, promiscuous or tangled manner”.

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DSL suggests that frample is “a conflation of frumple and fankle”. Fankle as both verb and noun is well-attested from the eighteenth century onwards. Frumple is much rarer; it is recorded in English (sometimes spelled fromple rather than frumple) into the early 17th century, but then it disappears from view, only to re-emerge in John Jamieson’s Supplement to the Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (1825), glossed “to crease, to crumple”.

DSL suggests Scott’s use was “influenced by … Eng[lish] frampold, of a horse, fiery, mettlesome”, a word witnessed for the most part from the 1600s; Scott used the word frampal in Peveril of the Peak (1822), a novel set in the seventeenth century and drawing on the author’s profound historical knowledge.

Wherever it’s from, I think we can agree that frampler is worth a revival.

Scots Word of the Week is written by Pauline Cairns Speitel of Scottish Language Dictionaries located at 9 Coates Crescent, Edinburgh.

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