Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
1. An overseer; a master tradesman; a small employer, “small contraetor” (e.Rs.1 1929, rare); “a name given by operative weavers to the agents of manufacturers” (Clydes. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Abd.22, Ags.1 1937.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North 60:
The human voice oor “cork” believes The only sicker test. Ags. 1878 J. S. Neish Reminisc. Brechin 18:
The “cork” was a bachelor, and lived by himself. Rnf. 1871 D. Gilmour “Pen” Folk (1873) 45–46:
When there was a difference between the weaving body and manufacturers in town about a rise or a reduction in prices, a brother . . . rose in Church, and . . . concluded by denouncing the “Corks” as a pack of heartless, self-seeking heathens. Ayr. 1910 T. Bruce in Poets of Ayrsh. (ed. Macintosh) 233:
Agents and Corks, in ruthless thraw. Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 172:
I'll tell ye a' that I hae been yable to mak' oot concernin' oor neebors up the stairs, an' yise get it as I gat it frae the aul' cork o' the squad himsel'.
†Phr.: to kick the cork, “to ask money from the agent of a manufacturer” (Clydes. 1825 Jam.2).
2. Applied to a master in gen. (Abd.9, Arg.1 1937).
Ayr. 1823 Galt Gathering of the West 294:
I'm fain too . . . to see what sort o' a cork a King really is.
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"Cork n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Apr 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/cork_n>
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