Word of the day – spurtle


I came across today’s word, spurtle, in a book I’m reading at the moment. It’s described as “a wooden utensil for stirring porridge” in the book, while according to Wikipedia it is:

a Scots kitchen tool, dating from at least the fifteenth century. It was originally a flat, wooden, spatula-like utensil, used for flipping oatcakes on a hot griddle. This terminology is now confined to Angus and Perthshire.

Over time, the original implement changed shape and began being used specifically for stirring oatmeal and soups. The rod-like shape is designed for constant stirring which prevents the porridge from congealing and so becoming lumpy and unappetising. It looks like a fat wooden dowel, often with a contoured end to give the user a better grip.

A Golden Spurtle is the first prize at the World Porridge Making Championships, which take place in Carrbridge in Scotland.

The Spurtle is also the name of a Scottish Country dance.

The etymology of spurtle is uncertain, however while searching for it, I found a possibly related word in A etymological dictionary of the Scottish language:

SPURKLE, A sort of spattle. “Scutching spurkle, a stick to beat flax.” “Thacking spurkle, a broad-mouth’d stick for thatching with”. […] perhaps Spurkle is merely a variety of Spurtle.

This entry was posted in Language, Scots, Words and phrases.

5 Responses to Word of the day – spurtle

  1. D.Jay says:

    You can buy modern versions of these from Lee Valley Tools.

  2. Yenlit says:

    I wonder if it’s etymology is connected with the word ‘spire’ in the sense of: a slender tapering shoot, stem, stalk like a blade of grass or the tapering portion of a steeple? Related to Old Norse ‘spira’ (stalk) and German ‘spier’ (tip of blade of grass) Old English ‘spir’ (blade) and Latin ‘spina’ (thorn).

  3. Yenlit says:

    I’ve seen ‘spurkle’ written in combination with ‘parritch’ and ‘parratch’ (ie. porridge):
    Also I saw connected with spurkles and oatcakes the word ‘pingle’ or ‘pinglie-pan’ – small shallow, metal cooking pan with a long handle, a saucepan.

  4. Is it just me, or does “Spurtle” sound like the name of an x-rated Pokemon?

  5. Carol Bellware says:

    Yesterday a friend gave me a spurtle and told me what it was used for. I haven’t used it
    yet, to stir porridge, but I think it’s the neatest little tool. I am an avid “kitchen gadget
    guru” – and I bet this can be used in a hundred different ways.

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