Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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LUCK, n., v.1 Also luk(k). Sc. usages.

I. n. 1. As in Eng., (good) fortune, (happy) chance. Combs. and Phrs.: (1) luck lilac, the white lilac, Syringa persica (Abd. 1930); (2) luck('s)-penny, a sum of money given for luck, e.g. that returned traditionally by the seller to the purchaser of goods, esp. live-stock or grain, by way of discount (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. (luck-), also in Eng. dial.; (3) luck stone, a small stone, esp. one with a natural hole in it, used as a charm or talisman (see quot.); the stone used in hop-scotch (Ags. 1961); (4) to the luck, into the bargain, as an extra, to a purchaser. Also to the to-luck (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.); (5) upon luck's head, on chance, on the prospect of success (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); I.Sc. 1961). (2) Sc. 1703  Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 319:
To tomsone a luck-pennie.
Gall. 1750  Trans. Highl. Soc. (1875) 15:
Given luckpenny, 10s. 6d.
Ayr. 1788  Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 260:
I am, indeed, seriously angry with you at the quantum of your luckpenny.
Sc. 1823  Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) VII. 297:
The luckpenny should have been better worth your acceptance.
Ayr. 1868  J. K. Hunter Artist's Life 48:
As a luckspenny to every pennyworth he sold he sung a sang.
ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 189:
The seller, on receiving payment, returned a “luck penny” to the buyer, a sixpence, a shilling, or a larger sum, if it was thought a “stret bargain.”
Ags. 1952  Bulletin (11 Sept.):
When ye sell a beast there's usually a poun' for the dealer's ain pocket. When ye buy a beast and gie a good price for it, he'll gie ye a poun, for your ain pocket — that's the luck penny.
(3) Ork. 1903  G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 9:
There is a small piece of red-coloured stone hanging on the plough and fastened thereto by a hair imp or string; this is called the dian stane or luck stone.
(4) Sc. 1808  Jam. s.v. Lucky:
A custom which seems pretty gen. to have prevailed, of giving something more to a purchaser than he can legally claim, “to the luck” of the bargain, as it is called, or “to the to-luck”.
(5) Sc. 1741  Session Papers, Erskine v. Reps. Erskine (25 June) 35:
[He] bid him go down Stairs and drink a Bottle of Ale upon Luck's Head.

2. A piece of luck or good fortune; any useful or valuable object come upon by chance, a lucky find (I.Sc. 1961). Sc. 1856  J. W. Carlyle Letters (1883) II. 289:
It was a luck for me yesterday . . . that I had these live things to look after.
Gsw. 1958  C. Hanley Dancing in the Streets 43:
We started raking the middens somewhere near Armadale Street, in Dennistoun . . . We didn't find any luck.

3. The good luck associated with the successful outcome of a particular activity. Butter luck, a successful churning; the luck of the green, in golf. Fif. 1867  St Andrews Gaz. (5 Oct.):
That much-coveted luck of the green was against both him and Strath, and they had to yield.
Sh. 1899  Shetland News (13 May):
We've made no ill shift for da mylk, mam, an' der shürely no money apo' da ert no 'at can tak da butter luck.

II. v. 1. To fate, fare, prosper (well or ill), freq. in ppl.adj. weel- or ill-luckit, (un)lucky, well- or ill-fated (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh., n.Sc. 1961). Also in Eng. dial. Abd. 1810  J. Cock Simple Strains 65:
Lat me tell ye, thro' the week, Your wark wad luck the better.
Kcd. 1867  Stonehaven Jnl. (21 Nov.) 3:
Hoo greatly at the last I hae been luckit In this my rest.
Sh. 1898  Shetland News (21 May):
Loard grant 'at shü may be better luckid i' dis weary ert a's A'm been.
Sh. 1922  J. Inkster Mansie's Röd 50:
I guid ower an' heard foo shü wis, puir ill-luckit woman.

2. To be lucky, to succeed, have good fortune (Abd., m.Lth., Bwk., Kcb. 1961). Freq. used of a cow in calving (m.Lth., Bwk. 1961). Also with inf. and direct obj. Ayr. 1719  Session Bk. Dundonald (1936) 608:
She heard Elisabeth Neil pray to God that William Wallace and his wife might neither luck nor thrive.
Bnff. 1787  W. Taylor Poems 103:
Gin I shou'd luck to get a plummy sowd.
Dmf. 1836  A. Cunningham Lord Roldan III. i.:
Dinna venture by such an unsonsie place . . . naebody lucks that looks on't.
Wgt. 1877  “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 167:
Things didna luck wi' them.
Per. 1878  R. Ford Hamespun Lays 147:
Sud e'er they luck a laddie wean.

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"Luck n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Feb 2019 <>



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