Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.]

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"Quak v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Mar 2018 <>



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