From Middle English addlen, adlen, from Old English edlēan (“reward, pay-back”), edlēanian (“to reward, recompense”); or more likely, from Old Norse ǫðlask (“to gain possession of property”), from ōðal (“owndom, property”).
- (provincial, Northern England) To earn, earn by labor; earn money or one's living.
- 1818, Samuel Johnson; H[enry] J[ohn] Todd, A Dictionary of the English Language; in which the Words are Deduced from their Originals; and Illustrated in their Different Significations, by Examples from the Best Writers: Together with a History of the Language, and an English Grammar. By Samuel Johnson LL D. With Numerous Corrections, and with the Addition of Several Thousand Words, and also with Additions to the History of the Language, and to the Grammar, by the Rev. H. J. Todd [...] In Four Volumes, volume IV, London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, OCLC 83215348:
- To ADDLE† v. n. Dr. Johnson calls this word obsolete. Mr. Boucher defines it "to earn by working," and considers it as a Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Cumberland, and Cheshire word; derived from the Sax. æðlean, or eðlean, merces, retributio, renumeratio, whence also addlings, wages received for work. A gentleman has informed me, that in Nottinghamshire, and throughout the north, with some variation of sound, addle and addlings are now in use. He has also obligingly explained the use of the word by [Thomas] Tusser, whom Dr. Johnson cites. "Ivy will so embrace a tree as not only to prevent its encrease, but to kill it. Tusser therefore advises to kill the ivy, or the tree will not addle, that is, will not earn or produce any other profit to its owner."
- 1855, "An inhabitant" [pseudonym; Francis Kildale Robinson], A Glossary of Yorkshire Words and Phrases, Collected in Whitby and the Neighbourhood. With Examples of their Colloquial Use, and Allusions to Local Customs and Traditions, London: John Russell Smith, 36, Soho Square, OCLC 318615, page 2:
- ADDLINGS, wages. "Poor addlings," small pay for work. "Hard addlings," money laboriously acquired. "Saving's good addling," as the well known saying, "a penny saved is a penny gained."
- 1862, anonymous [C. Clough Robinson], The Dialect of Leeds and Its Neighbourhood: Illustrated by Conversations and Tales of Common Life, etc. To which are Added a Copious Glossary; Notices of the Various Antiquities, Manners, and Customs, and General Folk-lore of the District, London: John Russell Smith, 36, Soho Square, page 233:
- ADDLE. To earn. "It's weel-addled" – well-earned. "Addle nowt an' ware at t' end on 't, an' tha'll soin ha' to leuk rarnd t' corners." – Earn nothing and spend hard, and you'll soon come to poverty.
- (provincial, Northern England) To thrive or grow; to ripen.
- Kill ivy, else tree will addle no more. – Thomas Tusser.
From Middle English adel (“rotten”), from Old English adel, adela (“mire, pool, liquid excrement”), from Proto-Germanic *adalaz, *adalô (“cattle urine, liquid manure”). Akin to Scots adill, North Frisian ethel (“urine”), Saterland Frisian adel "dung", Middle Low German adele "mud, liquid manure" (Dutch aal "puddle"), Old Swedish adel "urine", Bavarian Adel (“liquid manure”).
- Having lost the power of development, and become rotten; putrid.
- addle eggs
- (by extension) Unfruitful or confused; muddled.
- addle brains
- (Can we find and add a quotation of John Dryden to this entry?)
addle (plural addles)
- (obsolete) Liquid filth; mire.
- (provincial) Lees; dregs.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Wright to this entry?)
- To make addle; to grow addle; to muddle
- William Cowper
- Their eggs were addled.
- 2000, Quentin Skinner, “The Adviser to Princes”, in Nigel Warburton; Jon Pike; Derek Matravers, Reading Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Mill, Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge in association with The Open University, 978-0-415-21196-3, page 30:
- [Niccolò] Machiavelli had received an early lesson in the value of addling men's brains. […] [A] talent for addling men's brains is part of the armoury of any successful prince […] .
- William Cowper
- To cause fertilised eggs to lose viability, by killing the developing embryo within through shaking, piercing, freezing or oiling, without breaking the shell.
- 1980, Earl Leitritz; Robert C[onklin] Lewis, Trout and Salmon Culture (Hatchery Methods) [California Fish Bulletin; 164], Oakland, Calif.: University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, →ISBN, page 61:
- The term shocking or addling trout and salmon eggs is applied to the process of turning the infertile eggs white so they can be separated from the fertile ones. Actually, this amounts to nothing more than agitating the eggs enough to rupture the yolk membrane in the infertile eggs, which causes them to turn white.
addle (plural addles)
- A foolish or dull-witted fellow.
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for addle in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)