Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CLOCKING HEN, n. comb. Used gen. in Sc. to denote a brood hen, but note the following fig. uses. [′klɔkɪn —, klɔkŋ —]

1. “A cant phrase for a woman past the time of child-bearing” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Lnl.1, Kcb.1 1936.   Ib.:
If a bachelor be joked with a young woman, the answer frequently given is; “Na, na; if I marry, I'm for a clocking hen.” The reason of this peculiar use of the word . . . is said to be, that a hen never begins to hatch till she has given over laying, in as far at least as her present lochter [the eggs laid in one season] is concerned.

2. “Applied to a woman while bearing and rearing a family” (Abd., Bch. 1933 E. M. L. Douglas W.-L.; also Bnff.2, Slg.3 1936).

3. “A sum of money put out to interest in a bank” (Abd. 1905 E.D.D.Suppl.; also Bnff.2, Slg.3, Lnl.1, Kcb.1 1936).

[From Clock, v., q.v.]

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"Clocking hen n. comb.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 Dec 2018 <>



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