Alternative formsEdit


From Old Scots speill (to climb), of obscure origin. From or akin to Old Scots spelare (acrobat, tumbler). Probably from Middle Dutch spelen (to play, walk a tight rope, do gymnastic tricks, juggle, perform as an actor or clown), see spiel. Alternately, representing a continuation of Old English spilian (to play).


speel (third-person singular simple present speels, present participle speeling, simple past and past participle speeled)

  1. (dialect, Scottish and Northern English) To climb.
    • 1832 March 5, Memoirs of a Paisley Baillie, The Day: A Journal of Literature, Fine Arts, Fashions, &c., Glasgow, page 218,
      This I thocht at the time when he was speeling up the ladder before me in the Hie Kirk steeple ; but good breeding, at that particular time, keeped me from taking ony correck view of how things stood in that quarter.
    • 1841, Humorous Traits of an Old Highland Gentleman, Chambers′ Edinburgh Journal, Volume 9, Numbers 317-318, page 94,
      They were catched speeling up the lamp-posts and taking oot the cruizes and drinking the ulye, wick and a′.
    • 1860, Hugh MacDonald, Days at the Coast: A Series of Sketches Descriptive of the Firth of Clyde, Glasgow, page 255,
      There is a comfortable inn at this picturesque spot, where those who purpose speeling the lofty Ben generally prepare for their arduous undertaking.
  2. To talk at length, to spiel.
    • 1972, Sven Berlin, Pride of the Peacock: The Evolution of an Artist, page 91,
      Old Saxon, who was so sweet and gentle despite his long years on the halls, smiled at me and suggested I should do some speeling. Yedo gave me a megaphone. I held it to my mouth but there was silence.
    • 1973, Irene Baird, Waste Heritage, Macmillan of Canada, page 262,
      “I must close now or I shall go on speeling all night. []
  3. (dialect, Australia) To run.


speel (plural speels)

  1. (dialect) A splinter; a strip of wood or metal.
  2. (chiefly South Africa) A story; a spiel.



Dutch spelen


speel (present speel, present participle spelende, past participle gespeel)

  1. to play





  1. first-person singular present indicative of spelen
  2. imperative of spelen