mickle

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See also: Mickle and muckle

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English mickle, michel, mikel, mochel, muchel, mukel (much; many; large, tall; great), from Old English miċel, myċel (big, large; great; much) or Old Norse mikill (great, tall; much),[1] both from Proto-Germanic *mikilaz (great, large; many, much), from Proto-Indo-European *méǵh₂s (big, great). The word is cognate with Icelandic mikill (large in quantity or number; much; great).

For the adverb and noun forms, compare Middle English muchel (extensively, greatly, much, adverb)[2] and Middle English muchel (large amount, noun).[3]

The noun sense “a small amount” was due to the proverb many a little makes a mickle being incorrectly rendered as many a mickle makes a muckle, leading to mickle being thought to mean “a small quantity” and muckle to mean “a large quantity”, even though muckle is a variant of mickle and both mean “a large quantity”.[4]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

mickle (comparative more mickle, superlative most mickle)

  1. (archaic, now chiefly Scotland and Northern England, especially Northumbria) (Very) great or large.
    Synonym: muckle

Usage notes[edit]

The use in Northumbrian is occasional; the word muckle is more common.

Derived terms[edit]

Adverb[edit]

mickle (comparative more mickle, superlative most mickle)

  1. (archaic, now chiefly Scotland) To a great extent.
  2. (obsolete) Frequently, often.

Noun[edit]

mickle (countable and uncountable, plural mickles)

  1. (archaic, chiefly Scotland) A great amount.
    Many a little makes a mickle.
    • 1576, Iohannes Caius [i.e., John Caius]; Abraham Fleming, transl., “To the Reader”, in Of Englishe Dogges, the Diuersities, the Names, the Natures, and the Properties. [], imprinted at London: By Rychard Johnes, []; republished London: Printed by A. Bradley, [], 1880, OCLC 669210085:
      Neurthelesse little or mickle, something or nothing, substaunce or shadow take all in good part, my meaning is by a fewe wordes to wynne credit to this works, not so much for mine owne Englishe Translation as for the singular commendation of them, challenged of dutie and desart.
    • 1620, [Miguel de Cervantes]; Thomas Shelton, transl., “What Passed betwixt Don Quixote and His Squire, with Other Most Famous Accidents”, in The Second Part of the History of the Valorovs and Witty Knight-errant, Don Quixote of the Mancha. [], London: Printed [by Eliot's Court Press] for Edward Blount, OCLC 606504853, page 41:
      In a word, I muſt know what I may gaine, little or much: for the henne layes aſwell vpon one egge as many, and many littles make a mickle, and whilſt ſomething is gotten, nothing is loſt.
    • 1874, P. B. Power, Two-edged Proverbs: II.—‘Every Little Makes a Mickle.’, volume IX, London; Paris: Cassell, Petter & Galpin, OCLC 1009010932, page 772, column 1:
      Many of the great fortunes in this country have been built up of pence and halfpence—I might also say of farthings. The odd halfpenny and three-farthings that you see (if you look close) upon the ticketed article in the shop-window, forms one of the littles; and a profit of hundreds of pounds, or often thousands, at the end of the year, forms the mickle.
  2. (archaic, Scotland, originally erroneous) A small amount.
    • 1831 December 3, “Improvements”, in Samuel Hazard, editor, Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania: Devoted to the Preservation of Facts and Documents, and Every Kind of Useful Information Respecting the State of Pennsylvania, volume VIII, number 23 (issue 205 overall), Philadelphia, Pa.: Printed by Wm. F. Geddes, [], OCLC 8630082, page 367, column 2:
      While we boast of our farming, we must repeat again and again, the secret of our prosperity. It is a regular rotation of crops, making a little out of many articles, rather than attempting to make much of one; remembering the Scotch proverb, that "many a mickle makes a muckle"; []
  3. (obsolete) Great or important people as a class.
  4. (obsolete) Greatness, largeness, stature.

Derived terms[edit]

Determiner[edit]

mickle

  1. (archaic, now chiefly Scotland and Northern England, especially Northumbria) Much; a great quantity or amount of.
  2. (archaic, now chiefly Scotland and Northumbria) Most; the majority of.
    • 1861, “Puir Grizel: A Tale o’ Scotland”, in Mrs. S. C. Hall [i.e., Anna Maria Hall], editor, The St. James’s Magazine, volume I, London: Published for the proprietor by W. Kent and Co., Paternoster Row; New York, N.Y.: Willmer and Rogers, OCLC 639910631, page 74:
      [H]e that tellt me saw wi' his ain ee'n, an' heard wi' his ain ears, the mickle part o' what I'm gaun to say—an' what he didna see or hear hissell, he learned frae those wha'd kent a' frae the beginnin'

Pronoun[edit]

mickle

  1. (archaic, now chiefly Scotland) A great extent or large amount.
    • 1721, James Kelly, A Complete Collection of Scotish Proverbs Explained and Made Intelligible to the English Reader, London: Printed for William and John Innys, and John Osborn, OCLC 228754041, paragraph 50, page 291:
      Seek mickle, and get ſomething; ſeek little, and get nothing.

Alternative forms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ muchel, adj.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 8 June 2018.
  2. ^ muchel, adv.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 8 June 2018.
  3. ^ muchel, n.” in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007, retrieved 8 June 2018.
  4. ^ mickle” (US) / “mickle” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.

Further reading[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Scots[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old English miċel, myċel.

Adjective[edit]

mickle (comparative mair mickle, superlative maist mickle)

  1. much, great

Noun[edit]

mickle (uncountable)

  1. a great amount