Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

QUAK, v., n. Also quakk, quaak, quack, quayk, quawk; kwack, whack (Ork.). Sc. forms of Eng. quake. [kwɑk]

I. v. 1. As in Eng., to shake, tremble (Cai. 1776 Weekly Mag. (25 Jan.) 145, quack; Ayr. 1785 Burns Halloween xii., quauk; Mry. 1851 D. Paul Poems 78, quack; Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 36, quak; Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 165, quawk; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 262; I. and n.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Wgt. 1967). Pa.t. strong: quuke (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.) [on analogy with shak: shuke]. Vbl.n. quaken, in pl., any of the genus of grasses Briza, esp. Briza media, prob. short for Eng. quaking-grass, id. s.Sc. c.1830  Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 112:
When the hullers o' night are loorin', When the quakens are crimplin' eerie.

Combs.: (1) qua(c)kin-bog, a quagmire (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 136; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Bnff., m.Lth., Lnk., Wgt. 1967). Cf. n., 2.; (2) quakin esh, — a(i)sh, the aspen, Populus tremula (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Inv. 1872 Sc. Naturalist 54; Gall. 1912; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., -esh; Mry. 1928; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Abd., Kcb. 1967); (3) quakin esp, -asp, id. (Sc. 1759 J. Justice Brit. Gardener's Cal. 391; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Also quack esp; (4) quakkin moss, = (1) (Cai. 1967); (5) quaking pudding, a kind of dumpling (see quot.); (6) quakin quaa, — quaw, = (1) (Kcb. 1967). Also quackitty-qua (Gall. 1967), quackintie quaw (Kcb. 1950). See Quaw, n.; (7) quakin trei, = (2) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1967). (1) Dmf. 1898  J. Paton Castlebraes ix.:
If . . . the rider should disappear for ever in a Quaakin' Bog.
(2) Abd. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIV. 337:
A kind of poplar, known by the name of quaking ash.
ne.Sc. 1881  W. Gregor Folk-Lore 148:
The cross is said to have been made of the wood of the aspen — “quaking aish”. Hence the constant motion of the leaves.
(3) Sc. 1734  J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 14:
He is sneding up trifling Birches and Quack Esps which ought to be quite cutt down.
(4) Arg. 1878  Trans. Highl. Soc. 91:
The greater part is a perfect quagmire or quaking moss of great depth.
Sc. 1928  J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 17:
Forbye you ha'e the muir to cross Wi' mony a hagg an' quakkin-moss.
(5) Sc. 1736  Mrs. McLintock Receipts 19:
For a quaking Pudding. Take 3 Mutchkins of sweet Cream, boil it into a Choppen with the soft of an Half Penny Loaf, some Sugar and Cinnamon; then take a little Flour to fasten it, six Eggs, . . . mix them all together; so wet your Cloth, and straw Flour on the Inside of it, and tye it up hard and put it among boiling Water.
(6) Kcb. 1898  Crockett Standard Bearer ii.:
The vivid emerald green circling the “quacking-quaas” or bottomless moss-holes of the bogs beneath.
Gall. 1930  Gallovidian Annual 12:
Impassable bogs of quakkin quas.

2. To swarm, be alive or infested. Cf. II. 2. Ork. 1967  :
Whackan wi' mites.

II. n. 1. A shaking or shivering. For combs. coo('s)-quake(s), see Coo, n.1, II. 1. (9), 2. (9).

2. A quagmire (Ork. 1929 Marw., kwack, Ork. 1967). Also fig. a seething, moving mass (Ork. 1967). Deriv. form quackoo (Id.). Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 61:
De girnel wad be fu', an' twa barrels f'ae the year afore, i' a quack' o' mites, a' the time.

[For the phonology of the short vowel cf. Mak, Tak, Shak. The n. form may possibly be a variant of quag as in quagmire. O.Sc. has quakking, 1596.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Quak v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jan 2018 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND:

Browse Up
Browse Down