Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PEEP, n.2, v.2 Also pepe (Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Proverbs Gl.).

I. n. 1. The sound made by small animals or birds, a cheep, chirrup, pipe, squeak (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry. 1925). Gen.Sc.; fig. a whisper, the least mention or rumour. Phr. (no) to play peep, (not) to utter a sound, (not) to let out a cheep. Sc. 1808  Jam.:
“He darna play peep”, he dare not let his voice be heard.
e.Lth. 1894  P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iii.:
The verra weans dursna play peep till he was düne.
Cai. 1903  E.D.D.:
I noor heerd a peep o't.

2. A name given to certain birds which have a faint, weak cry, specif. the meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis (Ags. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 45), the rock pipit. Anthus obscurus. Cf. II. 1. (1). Bnff. 1859  Zoologist XVII. 6596:
Both these birds [Meadow Pipit and Rock Pipit] are known here only by the name of “peep.”

II. v. 1. To utter a shrill weak sound, as a small animal or bird, to cheep, squeak, chirrup (Sc. 1808 Jam.; n. and s.Sc., Uls. 1965). Also freq. form peeple, id. .Arch. or local in Eng. Hence peepag, a whistling reed made by boys out of green straw (Cai. 1903 E.D.D., ‡Cai. 1965); peeper, in comb. heather peeper, (1) the meadow pipit, Anthus pratensis (Bnff. 1859 Zoologist XVII. 6596, Bnff. 1965). Cf. I. 2.; (2) the common sandpiper, Tringoides hypoleucus (Abd. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 196; Per. 1965). Bch. 1930  :
The young chuckens is peeple-peeplin, needin' oot o' their hoosie.
(1) Bch. 1930  :
Yon littlins wis fessen up in a hoose amon the heddir, just like heddir-peepers.

2. To speak in a weak, whining voice, to complain querulously, “moan” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1965). Also freq. form ¶pipple. Combs., phr. and derivs.: (1) peeper, n., a querulous, complaining person, a grumbler, whiner (Sc. 1880 Jam.); (2) peepie, adj., whining, self-pitying, lacrymose (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 123). Also reduplic. form peepie-weepie, (i) adj., discontented, peevish, fretful (Ags. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 172); (ii) n., a whining, tearful child (Sc. 1882 C. Mackay Poetry & Humour Sc. Lang. 242); †(3) peep-sma', n., a paltry, insignificant person, a cypher (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Also phr. to peep sma', to keep oneself in the background, “pipe down”, “lie low” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 373:
You are not so poor as you peep.
Edb. 1786  Session Papers, Jardine v. De la Motte (27 Sept.) 12:
Mrs. Jardine did not speak with her usual tone of voice, but with a low peeping voice.
Sc. 1802  J. Leyden Remains (1819) 66:
Young Branxholm peeped, and puirly spake, “O sic a death is no for me!”
Fif. 1894  J. Menzies Our Town 136:
A peepin', white-faced, onweel looking craiter.
Abd. 1903  E.D.D.:
What are ye pipplin' and greetin' at?
(3) Sc. 1774  Weekly Mag. (27 Oct.) 159:
Every publication . . . by whomsoever related, whether from the pulpit, a peep-sma', or all other such like busy-bodies.
Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Miller vi.:
“I want nae awmous, ye peep sma',” said Maillie angrily.

[O.Sc. pepe, int., “cheep”, 1423, peip, n., 1470, the squeak of a young animal or bird, peip, v., 1501; Mid.Eng. pepen, c.1400, replacing earlier pipen. Imit. Cf. Fr. pipier, Du., L.Ger., Mod.Ger. piepen, Lat. pip(i)are, to cheep, chirp.]

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"Peep n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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