Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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GNAP, v., n., adj. Also gnape, gnep. Cf. Knap, v., n.3 [(g)nɑp, (g)nɛp (see P.L.D. §§ 66, 136)]

I. v. 1. To crunch, gnaw, bite (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis); to snap (at) (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; ne.Sc. 1954); used of two horses nibbling at each other in a friendly way (Ork.5 1953). Obs. in Eng. since 16th c. Hence gnap hungry, extremely hungry. Mry. 1810  J. Cock Simple Strains 119:
[She] disna spare her cheese an' cakes To had our teeth a gnappin Fu' crump, nae night.
Abd. 1881  W. Paul Past & Present 48:
That dog . . . gashin' an' gnappin' there at the fleas.
Abd. 1925  A. Murison Rosehearty Rhymes 36:
I saw them [fairies] licht a fire o' sticks An' puff an' blaw, an' gnap.
ne.Sc. 1953  Abd. Wkly. Jnl. (20 Aug.):
I've heard . . . a farmer, sitting down to his mid-day meal, saying to his wife: “I'll gae ma maet a gey fleg this day, wumman, for I'm gnap hungry.”

Phrs.: (1) gnap-at-the-wa', oatcakes baked hard (Abd. 1954). Cf. (2); (2) gnap-(at)-the-ween (win'), “[oat-] cakes baked very thin; any kind of very light bread” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 67, -the-ween; Bnff. 1927) or food generally (ne.Sc. 1954); also applied fig. to anything unsubstantial or ephemeral, “such as position, fame, etc.” (Bnff.3 c.1920, -at-the-win'); (3) (in) gnap(p)in(g) earnest, (in) dead earnest; also gnap an' [sic] earnest (Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings 14). (2) Abd. 1920  A. Robb MS.:
It was the shepherd that back a' the bannocks and he wisna a bad hand at it; he gae them plenty o' grip onywye. He spak o' makin twa bannocks oot o' the peck, so that wisna gnap at the win'.
Bnff. 1954 16 :
An old lady said of a thick “piece” given to a child: “Noo, that's nae gnap at the win'.”
(3) Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 84:
But she in gnapping earnest taks it a', The bargain was that she sud lat's awa'.
Abd. 1787  A. Shirrefs Jamie & Bess iii. i.:
It's gnapin' earnest, lass, I mak' you sear.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 144:
It's a' gnappin' earnest; a' body's in a hurry to wun through.

2. Fig. (1) With at: to taunt, to find fault with, snap at (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.). Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 67:
He's a nyatterin' bodie: he's eye gnappin' at something.

(2) tr. or with at: To speak mincingly or affectedly, to clip (words) in speaking, specif. of a Sc. speaker affecting English. Abd. 1790  A. Shirrefs Poems 293:
But keep me frae your travel'd birds, Wha never ance dree'd Fortune's dirds, And only ken to gnap at words.
Ags. 1822  A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters I. 80:
They say she fetches on the bairns wonderfu'. To be sure she has nane o' your new-fashioned gnappin.
Bch. 1832  W. Scott Poems 125:
We maun hae new anes, smooth an' sleek, An' gnap at English when we speak, For that's genteel.
Ags. 1875  J. Watson Verse Samples 110:
Gnapin' fine English an' quotin' French plays.
Mry. 1889  T. L. Mason Rafford 1:
The common people of almost every parish, though they are sometimes forced to “gnep,” in the presence of the Queen's English, retain still, a fondness for “oor auld mither tongue.”
Bnff. 1928 2 :
She's been Sooth a gey feylie, an' ye niver hard sic gnepit wirds as she uses.
Mry. 1931 4 :
She was trying to talk her best “Glasgow” — gneppin, in fact.

II. n. 1. A snap with the teeth; a bite, a morsel (Abd.27 1954). Also fig. Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 63:
An' fan I saw their piece was but a gnap, I thought my sell of mending their mishap.
Bnff. 1866  Gregor D. Bnff. 67:
The nowt hinna a gnap o' streh to pit i' thir hehds.
Abd. 1929  J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 5:
We're jist at wir tay. Come awa'; ye'll get a gnap yet.

2. Fig. (1) A snap, a biting remark. Abd. 1922  Swatches o' Hamespun 83:
He eence tried a bit gnap at John in my hearin” bit aw'm thinkin' he got little cheenge oot o' him. †(2) In pl.: mincing, affected speech, sc. English.
Abd. 1768  A. Ross Helenore 5:
Speak my ain leed, 'tis gueed auld Scots I mean, Your Southern gnaps, I count not worth a preen.
Mearns 1819  J. Burness Plays, etc. 297:
The niest time that ye rhyme do mak, Let it be Scottish strains; Your southlan gnaps I value not.

III. adj. Hungry, having a good appetite (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff., Add. 225; Bnff.2 1945).

[Onomat. in origin: cf. Knap. v., n.3, with similar meanings. O.Sc. has gnap, = v., 1. above, from 1501, Mid.Eng. 1303.]

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"Gnap v., n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/gnap>

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