Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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NIB, n. Also nibb (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)), and dim. forms nibbi (Jak.), nibbach (Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Deeside Gleanings 5), nibbock, nibbeck (Jak.). See also Neb.

Sc. usages, chiefly n.Sc.:

1. The beak of a bird; the human nose; by metonymy, the whole face. Obs. in Eng. from 17th c. Deriv. nibsie, an impudent old woman (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 126). Ppl.adj. -nibbit as in big-nibbet, -it, lang-, having a large or long beak or nose, in fig. contexts. Abd. 1754  R. Forbes Shop Bill 33:
An' napkins, as good's in a' the land, to dight your nib.
Bnff. 1787  W. Taylor Poems 7:
I saw a waefu' ugly Bird Streek oot his nib to let a dird At stranger Me.
Edb. 1798  D. Crawford Poems 86:
I couldna fin' as meikle [snuff] out . . . As pit my grainin nib in trim.
Slk. 1823  Hogg Shepherd's Cal. (1874) 296:
He had a large lang nibbit staff in his hand.
Ags. 1833  J. S. Sands Poems 89:
Sic a nib, and sic an e'e, Upon a beast I ne'er did see.
Abd. 1890  W. Carnie Waifs 39:
For big nibbet words he'd blake Gentile or Jew.
Sc. 1897  Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) XI. 47:
To the good auld man the good goose head, To the good auld wife the nibbiecot [nibbock o't].
Abd. 1955  W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
We'se awa an stap wir nib ootside 'e door again.

Comb.: nib-thresh, of farmyard birds: to strip off the grain from a corn-stalk with their beaks. Abd. 1951  Buchan Observer (4 Sept.):
[To] make it harder for either geese or ducks plucking out the corn-stalks to “nib-thresh” and snap.

2. The point or tip of anything, specif. a protruding strip of land (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1964). Also fig. = the point, crux, vital issue. Now mainly in technical contexts in Eng. Abd. 1777  R. Forbes Ulysses 38:
He shook the blade, an' wi' a wap Set the heft to the ground, The nib until his breast.
Abd. 1871  W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xlii.:
Clinkstyle's wastmost intoon shift rins in wi' a lang nib.
Mry. 1873  J. Brown Round Table Club 86:
Wi' only the nibs o' ane's taes on a stap o' a shair.
Sh. 1908  Jak. (1928):
De nibb o' de elbog.
Sc. 1943  D. Cairns Autobiog. (1950) 207:
To me the “nib” of the Reformation is whether we are to receive God's mercy and love, or to earn them. Dim. nibble, a quill-pen point, the worn stump of a quill-pen.
Sc. 1809  T. Donaldson Poems 121:
My pen's just worn ay till a nibble, Wi' point as blunt as ony dibble.
Gsw. 1860  J. Young Poorhouse Lays 146:
Till blunt's a beetle grew my nibble.

3. A peck, nip, prod, poke; a short sharp bite. Slk. 1874  Border Treasury (21 Nov.) 210:
She gave it a nib with her thumb-nail.
Hdg. 1896  J. Lumsden Battle of Dunbar 13:
The younkers o' the stud meanwhile Mischievously the hours beguile, And tak slee nibs at neibor's necks.
Abd. 1901  A. Paterson Monquhitter 83:
A sharp nip at the back of the ear, termed a “sweet nib”, was the most severe corporal punishment I ever saw administered.

4. A small knob, projecting lump or knot (Sh. 1964). Cf. Neb, n.1, 3. Also in Eng. dial. Hence (1) nibblowy ( < dim. nibble), hillocky, covered with small mounds (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (2) nibsy, of a boy: stout, lumpy, vigorous-looking (Ib.). Sc. 1847  Jnl. Agric. (1849) 34–5:
Clays . . . which are full of nibs of hard clay, or of the rocks from which the clay has been formed. . . . When the clay contains knots, nibs, or beans, which the winter frost will break down.

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"Nib n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Dec 2017 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/nib>

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