Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
I. v. 1. (1) tr. & intr. with at. To glance (at), to look (at) in a hurried or careless and unheeding manner (Ags.19 1953). Sometimes used tr. with direct obj.; “to evade quickly or suddenly” (S.D.D. Add.). Obs. in Eng. since 16th c., but still found in m.Yks. dial.
Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 181:
Now haud ye cheerie, neebors a', And gliff life's girnin' worriecraw. Sc. 1887 Old Song in Jam.6:
Fu' lang he glower'd at Jenny, But she barely gliffed at him. Abd. 1923 B. R. M'Intosh Broom Scent 13:
I sat by mysel' i' the snug ingle-neuk, Whiles biggin' braw dreams, and whiles gliffin' a buik. Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 15:
Maggie pits oot an airm, the cauld tae gage, While Peter gaunts, and gliffs up at the nock.
(2) To strike a glancing blow at, to slap, spank (Rxb. 1954). Phr. to gliff someone's breeks, to chastise (someone) on the seat of the trousers.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
A'll gliff eer breeks for ee.
†2. intr. “To glint, gleam, or glare, like a flush of sunshine or a flash of light” (Jam.6).
3. Transf. sense, tr. To frighten, startle (Lth., Borders 1808 Jam.; s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai.1 c.1920; Lth., Bwk., Peb., s.Sc. 1954); to dispel (snow). Also in n.Eng. dial.
Bwk. 1808 “Bwk. Sandie” Poems 11:
. . . he was sae glift, He ran wi' speed To save their lives. Slk. 1817 W. Crozier Cottage Muse (1847) 73:
And gin ye meet, amang yere glens, A wreath o' snaw, Be sure to tumilt into drains, An' glift awa'. Lth. 1882 “J. Strathesk” Blinkbonny xiii.:
I was that gliffed that I couldna even say Thank ye. Slg. 1910 Scotsman (12 Sept.):
The farmer still sets up in his fields “tattie-bogles” to “gliff” the “craws”. Rxb. 1919 Kelso Chron. (22 Aug.) 2:
A “heid yin” of the harvest field approached the consequential gamekeeper and asked what right he had to be there — evidently trying to “gliff the folk”.
II. n. Dim. gliffie, -y (Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 117).
1. A glimpse, a glance (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 233; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 245; Sh.10 (rare), em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm.Sc., Slk. 1954).
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums iv.:
I got a gliff o' something white before me. Dmf. 1920 D. J. Bell-Irving Tally-Ho 55:
If ye canna get a gliff o' the wunner, juist tak' an inwick aff yer ain stane an' cuddle intae the back o' her. em.Sc. 1931 (a) Glasgow Herald (8 Aug.):
I catches a gliff o' Mr Mitcham staundin' a wee thing back in his parlour yonder. Gall. 1937 Gallov. Annual 91:
We should juist catch a gliff o' the manse up there through the trees.
Phr.: at the first gliff, at first blush (Ags.19 1954).
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 121:
I was, and I will no deny it, At the first glif a hantle tryit To see yoursel' in sic a station.
2. Anything that lasts for only a very short time: (1) A moment, an instant (Kcb.4 1900), a short while; a short snatch, a “wink” (of sleep) (Dmf. 1825 Jam.; w.Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (ed. Wallace) 348; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 245), cf. Gloff, n., 4. Often in phr. in a gliff, in a trice (Sh., Per., Slg., Kcb. 1954).
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 66:
There were twae birkies on a day, Gade out to tak a wee glif play. Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xliv.:
And then if ye're dowie, I will sit with you a gliff in the evening mysell. Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters IV. 157:
I hadna a gliff o' leisure till this mornin'. Sc. 1826 Scott Journal (1890) I. 211:
After just a little bit gliff of a prayer for the mercy that sent them to my help. ne.Sc. 1836 J. Grant Tales 62:
For a gliff I kentna whaur I was, but I was rous't wi' a soun' like the din o' a mill. wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 266:
Just bide whar ye are, and I'll be back in a glif and haver a moon wi' ye, gin ye like. Dmf. 1877 R. W. Thom Poems 14:
Troth, the Laird's lang dochter, bonny Miss Jean, Maun wait a wee gliff langer for me. Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 111:
Then for a wee I'm like to greet, Till, in a gliff, there comes to me The words ye tell't me aft sae sweet.
(2) A momentary look or resemblance (to) (Sh.10 (rare), Abd. 1954).
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 172:
Some show a gliff o' the gowk, but ye're aye goavin. Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped vi.:
Ye have a kind of gliff of Mr Alexander.
(3) A flash, a glint (Bnff.7 1927; Sh.10 1954, rare). Also fig.
Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 59:
O throw down a gliff o' thy lily-white gleam. wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan App. 502:
Now I ride on a gliff o' the fyreflaucht o' nicht. Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend & Foe 12:
My auld heart gets licht an' youthfu' again, when I look on thae young cratur's wha haena even a gliff o' the warld's dark shadow. Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 135:
Days o' lanesomeness an' fear Got the gliff o' Jenny's kindness.
(4) A slight attack, a touch (of illness), esp. in phr. a gliff o' (the) caul(d) (Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 123; Ayr.4 1928; Abd., Ags., Slg., Fif., Edb. 1954). Cf. Glisk, n., 3. (2).
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ii.:
There were some wadna promise to atten' the meetin, maistly on accoont o' aye gettin a gliff o' the cauld ilka time they put on their Sunday's claes.
(5) A whiff, a puff; a slight or suddenly perceptible smell (Sh.10 (rare), ‡Cai.7, Abd., Ags., Per., Fif., Edb., s.Sc. 1954). Also fig. of a rumour, report (m.Lth.1 1953).
Sc. 1820 Scots Mag. (May) 423:
The mirk came in gliffs — in gliffs the mirk gade. wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan App. 559:
My lady . . . put hersel' in sic a puff o' heat, that a gliff o' win' . . . catched her by the throat, and sat doun on her lungs, puir thing. Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle 200:
He never has the gliff o' [smoke] aboot him. Fif. 1897 “S. Tytler” Witch-Wife viii.:
I've had a gliff of the rumour before. Dmf. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 134:
An' O, but the sang comes bonnie, On a gliff o' the win' up the brae. Mry. 1914 H. J. Warwick Tales 71:
There wisna as muckle as a gliff o' win', for nae a leaf wis steerin'.
(6) A sudden or passing sensation either of pain or pleasure: a shock, a thrill; an impulse (Borders 1954).
Sc. 1732 T. Boston Memoirs (1852) 494:
A person wading a deep and cold water; who is, upon his first entering it, struck to the heart, but the first gliff, as we call it, is the worst. Ags. 1947 J. B. Salmond Toby Jug vii.:
So for my sake, ye'll juist thole an auld craitur's wey o' gettin' a second-hand kind o' gliff oot o' a marriage.
3. Transf. sense. A fright, a scare (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 245; Ayr. 1928, gleff; Bnff., Lth., Bwk., Peb., Gall., Dmf., s.Sc. 1954); a state of excitement. Cf. Glaff, n. 3., Gloff, n. 1. Also in n.Eng. dial. Also fig. Cf. Fleg, n.1, 2. (1).
Sc. 1776 Ramsay Proverbs 70:
There came never sic a gliff to a daw's heart. Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxvii.:
I, like a fule, gat a gliff wi ' seeing the lights and the riders. Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck viii.:
For my part, I never gat sic a confoundit gliff sin' I was born o' my mother. Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) iv.:
My love had vanished like lightning; but oh, I was in a terrible gliff! Sc. 1887 Stevenson Merry Men (1925) ii.:
It's an unco life to be a sailor . . . Mony's the gliff I got mysel' in the great deep. Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc., App. 293:
They gat sic a gliff — ilka tod tint his hen. Rxb. 1910 Jedburgh Gazette (13 May) 3:
They tell mei that the sheep got an awfu' gliff when they saw ye. Nae wonder! Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables v.:
Puir Wull got sic a gliff that he gaed bye himsel' a'thegither. m.Sc. 1947 Scots Mag. (April) 14:
“Ye'll no' likely can feenish i' the Sooth Rig the morn?” “We may no' feenish't,” says I, “but we'll gie't a maist almighty gliff.”
Hence gliffy, adj., nervous, easily frightened (Dmf. 1954). Also in Nhb. dial.
m.Dmf. c.1920 3 :
That horse is gliffy.
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"Gliff v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/gliff>
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