Green’s Dictionary of Slang

noddle n.

[15C SE noddle, the back of the head]

1. (also nod, noll) the head.

[Scot]Dunbar Tua Maryit Wemen and the Wedow in Laing (1834) I 71: Weil couth I claw his cruke bak, and keme his cowit noddill.
[UK]Skelton Colyn Cloute (1550) Aiiii: They renne they in euery stede God wot with dronken nolles.
T. Elyot Castel of Helth (1541) 10b: Imaginacion in the forhed. Reason in the brayne. Remembrance in the nodel.
[Ire]Stanyhurst Of Virgil his Æneis III: His nodil in crossewise wresting downe droups to the growndward.
[UK]Lyly Mother Bombie I i: This noddle shall coin such new deuice.
[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley III i: Stand you aside, deere lou, nay I wil firke My silly nouice, as he was neuer firkt Since Midwiues bound his noddle.
[UK]Middleton & Rowley Spanish Gypsy IV i: When your feet shall be galled, / And your noddle be malled.
[UK]R. Brome Covent-Garden Weeded V i: This fellow has instead of brains, a Cob-web in his Noddle.
[UK]Jonson To my Detractor in Q. Horatius Flaccus 119: A Walk not the street / Out in the dog-dayes, least the Killer meet / Thy Noddle with his Club.
[UK]Gossips Braule 5: Ile broach your Noddle for ye, but Ile wake ye; Are ye so rampant with a Pox t’yee?
[UK] ‘Bum-Fodder’ Rump Poems and Songs II (1662) 56: You’ll find it set down in the Harrington’s Moddle / Whose Brains a Commonwealth doth so coddle, / That ’t has made a Rotation in his Noddle.
[Scot] ‘The Joviall Crew or Beggers-Bush’ in Euing Broadside Ballads No. 150: Therefore a merry brave Begger Ile be, / For none wears his Noddle so safely as he.
[Ire]‘Teague’ Teagueland Jests I 33: Laying their Noddles together, it was agreed [...] to go to the next Coffee-House.
[Ire]W. Dunkin ‘A Receipt for Making a Doctor’ in Works I 270: Thy noddle, which (perhaps) contains / Proportionately much less brains.
[UK]Behn Rover V i: Unless it be the old Black-Fryers way, / Shaking his empty Noddle o’er Bamboo.
[UK]S. Colvil Whiggs Supplication Pt II 47: Thou Bishops Noddles Crush like Eggs.
[UK]J. Dunton Night-Walker Dec. 3: With my Hat Cockt up, as if it had been resolved to take flight from my Noddle, up to the Firmament.
[UK]T. Brown Amusements Serious and Comical in Works (1744) III 97: The servile noddle of that cringing slave.
[UK]Misfortunes of Simple Simon (1780) 8: Margery in a woeful fury snatched up Jobsen’s oaken staff from the table, and gave poor Simon such a clank upon the noddle.
[UK]Hist. of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard 54: Having Fasted so long before, it soon got into my Noddle [...] and made me quite Lunatick.
[UK]Laugh and Be Fat 76: A Jolly Crispin [...] happened to come Home one Night, at a late Hour very much troubled with a drunken Vertigo in his Noddle.
W. Dunkin Parson’s Revels (2010) 67: The Fall had somewhat maul’d his Nose, / But could not greatly discompose / His Noddle.
[UK]Life and Character of Moll King 20: This Fellow, with his wagging Nod.
[Scot]Robertson of Struan ‘The Wheel of Life’ Poems (1752) 47: Then fill about a Bumper to the Brim, / Till all repeat it round, and ev’ry Noddle swim.
[UK]Bridges Homer Travestie (1764) I 100: The Thunderer then his noddle shakes, / And Greece, like city custard, quakes.
[US] in F. Moore Songs and Ballads of the Amer. Revolution (1855) 41: Come shake your dull noddles, ye pumpkins, and bawl.
[UK]Bridges Burlesque Homer (3rd edn) 151: Would Jove to all the rest assign / Noddles but half as thick as thine.
[Ire] ‘De Night before Larry was Stretch’d’ Irish Songster 5: But soon I’d demolish your noddle. / And tip you your claret to drink.
[UK]‘Bumper Allnight. Esquire’ Honest Fellow 27: ’Till again she cry’d out, ‘Pray, sir, can you see?’ / With a shake of the noddle, ‘Aye, too well, said he’.
[Scot]A. Douglas ‘Advice to Young Man’ Poems in Scot. Dialect 73: Tho’ ye were far advanc’d in eild, / An’ grey hairs on your noddle .
[UK]H. Smith ‘The Stock Jobbers Lament’ in Atkin House Scraps (1887) 88: O fatal Omnium, wicked was his noddle.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 188: Old dowagers [...] pop their noddles out.
[US]Ely’s Hawk & Buzzard (NY) 3 July 3/1: Crazy John, a chap whose noddle has been out of order for a long time.
[UK] ‘The Riggs of the Races’ in Holloway & Black II (1979) 141: Drinking gin and ale, it gets into their noddle.
[US]J. Downey Cruise of the Portsmouth (1963) 99: Such manly deed their noddles never entered.
[Ire] ‘Dear Praties We Can’t Live Without Them’ in Irish Songster 37: We’ll bother his noddle, and soon stop his breath [...] With praties, dear praties, we’d stone him to death!
[US]G.G. Foster N.Y. by Gas-Light (1990) 182: Here a sight met the astonished Green, which totally upset the few remains of common sense in his bewildered noddle.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Victoria (Melbourne) 5 Sept. 3/1: Sayers [...] turned away laughing and shaking his noddle.
[UK]Dickens Our Mutual Friend (1994) 238: You have a sort of an idea in your noddle sometimes.
[UK]W.S. Gilbert Engaged in London Assurance and other Victorian Comedies (2001) Act II: I have thought over the matter very carefully in my little baby-noddle.
[UK]W.S. Gilbert ‘The Two Majors’ Fifty ‘Bab’ Ballads 250: I’ll scatter the brains in your noddle, I swear, / All over the stony parade!
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 28 Jan. 1/3: Colonel Brown [has been] remitted to a Lunatic Asylum, as he is weak in the noddle.
[UK]E.W. Rogers [perf. Vesta Tilley] Only a Pair of Shoes 🎵 She’d suspicions in her noddle, off to Brum that night did toddle.
[UK]R. Marsh Beetle 277: I sees double, or things what was only inside my own noddle.
[UK]‘Ramrod’ Nocturnal Meeting 48: I had some sense left in my noddle.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 83: When a guy like Tommy gets the worm in his noddle that he’s cut out for an actor.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 11 Jan. 6/6: Somehow the question [...] entered THE ANTIQUE NODDLE of our ancient hero.
[US]O. Johnson Varmint 1523: You can’t be one of us if you don’t believe it in your own noddle that you are one of us!
H. Champion ‘I’m Proud of My Old Bald Head’ [monologue] Hair, hair, hair, I’ve got none on my noddle.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 26 June 2nd sect. 12/8: We have seen him stoush his mother and appropriate her pelf, / And dint his sister's noddle with the hard, domestic delf.
[UK](con. 1835–40) P. Herring Bold Bendigo 284: Fortunately the damaged beaver was not on the noddle of the fiery little Squire.
[UK]J. Gosling Ghost Squad 64: There was a lump as big as an egg on my noddle.

2. used fig. to denote the head as a seat (or not) of intelligence.

L. Tomson Calvin’s Sermons to Timothie and Titus 656/1: The diuell, because hee seeth that there are light and loftie heades, putteth into their braines and foolishe noddles to make great shewes.
[UK]L. Barry Ram-Alley IV i: You say very right, Sir Oliuer, very right, I haue’t in my noddle i’ faith.
[UK]R. Brome City Wit IV i: Some new project she has in her noddle.
[UK]W. Davenant Wits V ii: Come, sir, Out with that sage noddle that has contriv’d So cunningly for me.
[UK]R. L’Estrange Fables of Aesop (1926) 8: I have a Project in my Noddle that shall bring my Mistress to you back again.
[Ire]Head Canting Academy (2nd edn) 39: I know not what joyful crotchet got into his noddle.
[Ire]‘Mac O Bonniclabbero of Drogheda’ Bog Witticisms 32: So laying their Noddles together, it was agreed by them both to go to the next Coffee-house.
[UK]N. Ward London Spy I 1: My Brains loaded [...] with as many Antiquated Tringum Trangums as are lodg’d in the Whimsical Noddle of an old Astrologer.
[UK]Humours of a Coffee-House 24 Oct. 44: Pray behold your Lady-look’d Lawyer Wrangling for his Client, with his Noddle full of Cases.
[UK] in Swift ‘Dr. Sheridan to Dr. Swift’ in Chalmers Eng. Poets XI (1810) 406/1: Pray why is a woman a sieve and a riddle? / ’Tis a thought that came into my noddle this morning.
[Scot]A. Ramsay ‘The Twa Cut-Purses’ Fables and Tales 35: In Borrowtown there was a Fair [...] Baith Lads and Lasses busked brawly [...] And lay out ony ora Bodles On sma Gimcracks that pleas’d their Nodles.
[UK]Sterne Tristram Shandy (1949) 578: ‘Now what can their two noddles be about?’ cried my father.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Oct. VII 44/2: A pretty large compnany of young noblemen suddenly took it into their noddles, to cut their hair off their heads.
[US]T.G. Fessenden ‘Political Squib’ Poems (1804) 135: The Federal Bard, who erst bestow’d [...] a New-Year’s Ode, / Which critics, with sagacious noddle, / Affirm was built on Pindar’s model.
[Scot]W. Tennant Anster Fair I vii 8: I hear them buzzing deep within my noddle.
Grannie M’Nabs Lecture on Witless Mothers and their Dandy Daughters 5: Work now or want, and do not say that the world has war’d you; but lofty noddle, your giddy-headed mother has led you astray, by learning you to be a lady before you was fit to be a servant lass.
[US]D. Crockett Exploits and Adventures (1934) 170: Such as had more pence in their pockets than sense in their noddles.
[UK]W. Phillips Lost in London I i: What’s got into thy noddle, lass?
W. Black Sabina Zembra II 141: ‘Every mortal thing has gone against me [...] I seem to Jonah everything I touch.’ ‘Take my advice and keep your noddle cool, then,’ said Mr. Scott, pleasantly.
[UK]Boy’s Own Paper 6 Apr. 421: What on earth puts that in your noddle, old man?
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Names’ Sporting Times 30 Jan. 1/2: The sound of his own name a gleam of recollection sent through his noddle.
[UK]Marvel 12 June 3: Get that into your noddle and let it stick there.
[Aus]X. Herbert Capricornia (1939) 149: You’re a good a man as any. Get that into your silly noddle.
[US]J. Archibald ‘No Place Like Homicide’ in Popular Detective Apr. 🌐 The pillow under his aching noddle did not act as a Balm of Gilead, it was that flat.

3. an empty, foolish head; thus a fool.

[UK]H.T. Potter New Dict. Cant (1795) n.p.: noddle empty head.
[UK]G. Andrewes Dict. Sl. and Cant n.p.: Noddle empty head; shallow-pated; stupid.
[UK]Flash Dict.
[UK]G. Kent Modern Flash Dict.
[UK]Flash Dict. in Sinks of London Laid Open.
[UK]Duncombe New and Improved Flash Dict.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum 59: noddle An empty-pated fellow; a fool; the head of an animal.
[US]E. Dahlberg Olive of Minerva 113: If the will is feeble one is a noddle.

In derivatives

noddleheaded (adj.)

confused, forgetful.

‘Gillian Vase’ A Great Mystery Solved 199: Even the noddle-headed inhabitants of Cloisterham knew that.
Ohio Democrat (Logan, OH) 28 may 1/5: It’s all a mistake of the noddle-headed fellow that printed that paper.
[US]Eve. World (NY) 21 June 10/2: [pic. caption] The Scylla and Charybdis of the fair metrop / Are the scallawaggy masher and the noddle-headed cop.
E. Kostova Historian (2006) 364: To my surprise, Dryden was lying there on my desk as if I’d never put it away, and I thought I must be getting pretty noddleheaded with all the work.

In compounds

noddle-rubber (n.)

a club.

[UK]J. Phillips Maronides (1678) V 74: And yet the Luibbers / Would weild [sic] those mighty noddle-rubbers.
noddle-thatcher (n.)

a wig-maker.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 800/1: ca. 1715–1800.

In phrases

off one’s noddle

deranged, eccentric.

[UK]Ellis & Macey [perf. George Robey] ‘Arabella Binks’ 🎵 Whenever I refuse a man / He goes quite off his noddle.
use one’s noddle (v.)

to use one’s head, to act sensibly, to think things through (cf. use one’s noodle under noodle n.1 ).

[UK]A. Sillitoe Sat. Night and Sun. Morning 73: If he’d use his noddle a bit he’d know that he was the cause of all this.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘The Russians are Coming’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] So I thought – using my noddle – that we’d make enough out of the bricks alone.
[UK]Guardian Education 21 Mar. 46: Brigadier Purves curtly dismisses as myth the notion that soldiers don’t need to use their noddles.