Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HACK, n.1, v. Also hauk; ha(w)k; hawke, hakk (Sh.); †hawck. [hɑk; also hɑ: k, h: k, appar. from confusion with hawk. See etym. note.]

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A kind of rake used for breaking up, or raking soil, dung, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam., hawk; Lth. 1825 Jam., hauk). Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; a kind of pronged mattock with a slightly curving handle used for lifting cut sods out of surface drains (w. and sm.Sc. 1956, hawk), or mixing hair in plaster-lime (Sc. 1861 Stephens and Burn Farm Buildings 540, hawke). Also in n.Eng. dial. Per. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 533–4:
Before the plant appears above ground, they loosen all the ground completely with a hack, an instrument with a handle of about 4 or 5 feet long, and two iron prongs like a fork: but turned inwards.
Sc. 1808  Farmer's Mag. (June) 150:
The 4th [tool required] is a hack, similar to those that are used for pulling dung from carts, only narrower and shorter in the prongs, and with a shorter handle.
Dmf. 1925  Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 28:
Hack. A kind of spade with four or five prongs for mucking a byre or stable . . . When the prongs are turned down claut fashion, it is a “dreg” or “hack.”

Combs.: (1) dung-hack, -hawk (Ags.18 1956), id.; (2) muck-hack, -hawk (Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. Rxb. 56 note; Ags. 1808, Mearns 1825 Jam.; m.Lth. 1956), hack-muck, id. Used attrib. of a woman's bonnet from a similarity in shape, and also fig. as an opprobrious epithet for a person. Found in Nhb. dial. (1) Sc. 1858  H. Stephens Farm Implements 513:
The Dung-Drag. — This implement is sometimes called the dung-hawk. . . . It is used for dragging the dung out of the tilt-cart into heaps along drills, or upon the plain surface.
(2) Abd. c.1760  Trans. Highl. Soc. XIV. 81:
In this state they [middings] lie till after harvest, when they are hacked down with an instrument called the Hack-muck and carried to the land.
Abd. 1820  A. Skene Poems 52:
A baize pelisse, just like the sky, A hack-muck chip, an' a' that.
Hdg. 1896  J. Lumsden Battle of Dunbar 229:
Syne wi' poles an' muck-hawks they a' then did rin, The “murdered manie” to grab oot o' the Lynn.
Sc. 1931  J. Lorimer Red Sergeant v.:
Would ye fyle the name of the Borders, ye muck-hacks?

2. A kind of adze used by joiners; also dim. hackie (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); a pick-ended hammer used by miners when cutting coal (Edb.6 1944, hawk); now obs. or dial in Eng. Also in comb. hawk-hammer, id. (m.Lth. 1956). Ags. 1846  G. Macfarlane Rhymes 61:
The house-wright's hak an' mason's hew Are seldom heard.
w.Lth. 1953  Scotsman (28 May):
The tool, known as a hawk, is the size of a small hammer and has many uses.

3. A portion cut, a slice, chunk. m.Lth. 1956 1 :
A hawk o' cheese, breid, etc.

4. A crack or “chap” in the skin gen. caused by exposure to cold, wet, or frost (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr. Duguid 161:
Mittens on her hands after she has creeshed them weel with saim for the hacks.
Abd. 1909  C. Murray Hamewith 7:
In spite o' hacks an' chilblains he was shod again for school.
Kcd. 1934  “L. G. Gibbon” Grey Granite 33:
Hacks in your fingers that caught the blankets as you turned in unease of a night.

5. A blaze or white marking on the face of a horse. Ags. 1767  Abd. Journal (21 Dec .):
Stolen or strayed, . . . a dark brown hakit Horse, with a side Tail, a strong Hack in the Face.

6. Fig., from the meaning of a notch, on a graded scale, on the bracket of the Cruisie, or the like: a certain amount, measure of time, distance, etc. (Bnff. 1956). Abd. 1932  D. Campbell Bamboozled 25:
The ile in that lamp is burnin' a hack owre faist for my pocket.
Bnff. 1952  Banffshire Jnl. (22 Jan.):
Shall I in time to come move myself up a “hackie” from the category of the not-so-wise, to that of prudent?
Mearns   6 1953:
Hae we far til ging noo? Ay we've a hack tae ging yit. Willie's late this mornin'! Ah! Willie's aye a hack ahint!

7. In the game of curling: a cut made in the ice to keep the player's foot from slipping when delivering the stone (Dmf. 1825 Jam., hack). Nowadays by transf. = Crampet, n., 6., the metal footplate on which the player stands (Kcb.10 1956). Sc. 1811  J. Ramsay Curling 6:
A longitudinal hollow is made to support the foot, close by the tee, and at right angles, with a line drawn from the one end of the rink to the other. This is called a hack or hatch.
Ayr. 1828  J. Dunlop Curling 52:
The rink . . . is 42 yards long, 38 from tee to tee, and the board, trigger or hack, from which the stone is delivered, four yards behind.
Lnk. a.1832  W. Watt Poems (1860) 244:
Some mak' the brughs, some scrape the hacks, Some draw the lazy hogscores.
Sc. 1951  Scots Mag. (Jan.) 303:
The curling is careful, calculated. Many play from the hack, and many slide away their stones without lifting it clear of the ice.

8. Broken water, a choppy sea (Sh. 1910 Old-Lore Misc. III. i. 40; Sh., Cai. 1956); a stiff or contrary wind which causes the sea to rise. Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
He is a hakk on de day . . . there is a choppy sea near the land to-day, but calm farther out . . . a hakk o' wind; he is a hard hakk ahead.

9. Phrs., mostly in sense 6.: (1) a hack abeen the common, “a cut above” ordinary people (Sh., Abd. 1956); (2) hack and sweep, a fight, sc. with swords, a tumult, an uproar; (3) to be a hack i' [i' the] jamb, to be a noteworthy occasion (Ags. c.1910 per Abd.27); cf. (4) and 6.; (4) to ca' (ding, drive, put, strike) a hack i' the crook (post), to regard as an occasion for celebration, to celebrate a notable event (Mearns 1880 Montrose Standard (15 Feb. 1929), ca' — — post; Cai., Mry., Ags. 1956, — crook; Slg., Ayr., Wgt., Kcb. 1956, — post). See also Cruick, n., 7. (5); (5) to ding (mak) a gey (sad) hack in (the post), to make a large hole in, to take the greater part of, one's resources; (6) to get a hack(ie) up, to get promotion, to be advanced in status (Abd. 1956); (7) to pit doon a hack, see (11); (8) to put a hack i' the crook, see (4); (9) to set up one's bonnet a hack, to strike a lofty attitude; (10) to strike a hack i' the post, see (4); (11) to tak (pit, haul) doon a hack, to humble, humiliate, “take down a peg” (Abd.13 1910; Sh., Abd. 1956). (1) Abd. 1880–1953 16 :
We dinna meal in wi' them that coonts thirsel a hack abeen the cowmon.
(2) Abd. 1902  E.D.D.:
Gin the French officers begin to blab on ane anither, then we'll get hack and sweep.
(4) Mry. 1865  W. H. L. Tester Poems 160:
The city's richts are a' secured — Ca' in the crook a hack again.
Abd. 1923  H. Beaton Benachie 231:
Far hae ye been this lang time? Ye'll need tae drive a hak itha crook.
m.Sc. 1924  “O. Douglas” Pink Sugar xxvii.:
It's no' often we meet you in onybody's hoose. We'll need to strike a hack in the post.
(5) Sc. 1842  J. Aiton Clerical Econ. 206:
¥25 or ¥30 paid all at once for one horse makes a sad hack in the post, and cannot well be spared by a minister, unless he has a nest-egg in the bank.
Abd. 1951  Buchan Observer (9 Oct.):
Consider the cost of such perquisites to-day, and you will find it “dings a gey hack” in the cottar's fee.
(9) Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xliii.:
I sud set up my bonnet a hack fan I gaed owre to Clinkstyle this time.
(11) Kcd. 1955  Mearns Leader (15 April):
A' her wirkin' days Eppy hid made it her special job tae haul fouk doon a hack fen they threaten't tae improve their lot.

II. v. 1. To drag dung from a cart with a hack in manuring a field (Lth. 1825 Jam., hauk; m.Lth., Arg. 1956).

2. To chop (e.g. meat, firewood) with an axe, etc. into pieces (Cld. 1880 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Now obs. exc. dial. in this sense in Eng.; to break up or uproot with a hack. Ags. 1712  A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
A standirt, five spitts, a scummer, a laidle [divider], a hacking knife.
Edb. 1819  J. Thomson Poems 37:
Threescore o' bobbins, ten o' pirns An auld blunt ax for hackin' birns.
Abd. 1867  W. Anderson Rhymes 20:
That maidens and widows, young, mid aged, an' auld, Made mony an errand wi' bog fir to hack.
Ork. c.1912  J. Omond 80 Years Ago 21:
The ground was well broken up with eatches, which were like big hoes, and were made at the smithy. The hacking with eatches, I am informed, was endless.
Kcb. 1932  “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song 214:
Mind the fire, Ewan, there's no wood there, run and hack some.

Combs.: (1) hack-block (Abd.31 1956), -(c)log, a chopping block (Ags.18 1956); (2) hackit corn, crushed oats; (3) hackit-flesh, see quot.; (4) ha(w)cket kail, hackum-, a dish of kail or cabbage finely chopped and boiled in water or milk (Sc. 1874 A. Hislop Sc. Anecdotes 158, hawcket-). Also used attrib.; (5) hackit neeps, sliced turnips (Abd.31 1956); (6) hackstock, hacking-, = (1) (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Abd., Bnff. 1956). (2) Mry. 1888  J. McQueen Beauties 126:
Syne ga'e't a feed o' hackit corn An' hay tae sair't until neist morn.
(3) ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 184:
One mode of an enemy's working evil among a neighbour's cattle was to take a piece of carrion, cut the surface of it into small pieces, and bury it in the dunghill, or put it over the lintel of the door. Such carrion was called “hackit-flesh.”
(4) Abd. c.1700  New Bk. Old Ballads (Maidment 1885) 10:
And noganes full of hacket kaile.
Sc. 1726  Ramsay T.T.Misc. (1876) I. 204:
To feast me with caddels And good hacket-kail.
Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 36:
Feed yourselves as I do, wi' hacket kail brose.
Dmb. 1868  J. Salmon Gowodean 108:
Good hackum kail twice laid.
Arg. 1882  Arg. Herald (3 June):
Dannie's the wad o' his life for hacket kail or Scotch greys.
(6) Sc. 1856  Jnl. Agric. 400:
On the earth, where the floor should be, is most commonly a hack-stock, an axe, and a quantity, sometimes a large one, of hag or brushwood, which is the fuel used.
Kcd. 1932  “L. G. Gibbon” Sunset Song 30:
[He] once tried to kill one with an axe he caught up from a hackstock.
Mry. 1939  J. M. Dallas Toakburn 13:
On the floor were piles of shavings and his “hackstock”, where he split his fat sticks and made them ready for market.

3. Of corn: to cut with a hook. Knr. 1917  J. L. Robertson Petition 28:
It's women's wark hackin' the corn!
Ork. 1929  Marw.:
In olden days, when hooks were used for shearing, any part where the crop was too short to be held easily by the hand was cut by using the hook like a scythe; i.e. the crop was not held by the left hand when being cut by the hook in the right. This process was called “hacking” the crop.

4. Of the skin: to chap or crack, to make or become rough; gen. in pa.p. or ppl.adj. hacket, -it (Sc. 1787 J. Elphinston Propriety II. 207; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 250). Gen.Sc. Also found in n.Eng. dial. Deriv. in comb. hackitie heels, a nickname for an intoed person who kicks his heels in walking (Fif.17 1956). Lnk. c.1779  D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 148:
To plout her hands through Hawkey's caff-cog, is a hateful hardship for Mammy's Pet, and will hack a' her hands.
Ayr. 1788  J. Lapraik Poems 108:
The poor, wee herd, wi' hacket legs.
Abd. 1844  W. Thom Rhymes 140:
His wee, hackit heelies are hard as the airn.
Ags. 1857  Arbroath Guide (7 Feb.) 4:
Wadin' 'mang the snaw wi' his wee hackit feet.
Ayr. 1870  J. K. Hunter Life Studies 29:
To keep their legs frae hacking — what refinement calls chapping or gelling.
Abd. 1903  W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 91:
Gar him live upo' saut herrin' an' frostit taties till the verra guts o'm hack again.
Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
My feet is hakket, my feet are full of hacks and scars.
Bch. 1946  J. C. Milne Orra Loon 1:
Pu'in' neeps, wi' hackit han's, Scrapin' dubs and sharny kye.

5. To plunder or rob a bird's nest (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 12, hawk, hauk). Hence hackie, one who robs a bird's nest, gen. used in the following rhyme, remembered in use from c.1885 (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ayr. 1956). Rxb. 1923  Watson W.-B.:
Hackie, hackie, herry-nest, The bonnie bird ti build its nest, An' yow ti gang an' herry 't.

6. Fig.: in ppl.adj. hacket, cutting, biting, caustic. Dmb. 1868  J. Salmon Gowodean 71:
Out on you, bawdron! wi' your hacket tongue.

[Some of the forms suggest confusion with hawk, phs. because of the claws of the implements; v., 5. may be a different word, phs. a variant and verbal usage of hawk, the bird of prey.]

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"Hack n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Dec 2017 <>



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