Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SPARK, n., v. Also spairk (Dmf. 1836 Carlyle Life in London (Froude 1884) I. 75), sperk (Dmf. 1898 J. Paton Castlebraes 246; Rxb. 1923Watson W.-B.), spirk. Dim. forms sparky, spirkin, spirklich. Sc. forms and usages. [spɑrk; s.Sc. spɛrk; ne.Sc. + spɪrk]

I. n. 1. (1) A small particle or amount of something, liquid or semi-liquid (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1971). Obs. in Eng. Sc. 1811  Edb. Annual Reg. lxxiv.:
Sparks of water.
Ags. 1823  A. Balfour Foundling II. iii.:
You an' the callan will gang awa' hame, an' send out by Elspa wi' a spark o' gin.
Ayr. 1833  Galt Stories of Study II. 204:
Spatterdashes, to keep off the sparks of the street.
Mry. 1851  D. Paul Poems 86:
Milk sae het that feint a spark o' it wad yearn.
Sh. 1901  Shetland News (20 July):
Shü comes ta wiz fir a spark o' mylk.
Abd. 1928  J. Baxter A' Ae 'Oo' 14:
Nae spirk o' weet kent foo tae fa'.

(2) Specif.: (i) (a nip of) spirits, whisky; (ii) a drop of water; a rain drop (Sc. 1894 in Child Ballads (1956) V. 377, spirk; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc., Ags. 1971); (iii) a splash, spot of mud, etc. (ne.Sc. 1971). (i) Per. 1816  J. Duff Poems 128:
The name, (M'Rostie) can ye read it, Wha keeps a spark for them wha need it.
Nai. 1828  W. Gordon Poems 31:
The night it blew, and Tam was fu', He stammer'd wi' the sparky.
Mry. 1877  J. Ross Poems (1929) 4:
He took at times a wee bit spark.
(ii) Sc. 1828  Young Allan in
Child Ballads No. 245 B. xv.:
She's plowen thro the stormy seas Like sparks out o a weet.
Ags. 1864  Arbroath Guide (27 Feb.) 3:
There are guid enough wells, nae doubt, i' the Park, But fat matters that we'll no get a spark.
(iii) Edb. 1821  W. Liddle Poems 164:
Honest man, that use the broom, To scrub the streets, and fulsie rakes! For's to walk clean, but dubs or sparks.
Abd. 1920  G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 29:
His breeks an' grauvit tee Wi' spirks were clortit.

2. A scattering, spray, sprinkling. Abd. 1930  :
Yon screengin tyke wis roon yesterday again, but Aw gya him a fleg, wi' a spirklich o' barley.

II. v. 1. tr. To set something alight; to light a match, fire, etc. (em.Sc.(a), wm. and sm.Sc. 1971); to cause to emit sparks, kindle. Ayr. 1883  W. Aitken Lays 58:
His wife had sparkit a spunk the auld clock face to see.
Lnk. 1902  A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 99:
I held the flint and steel tae spark the paper.
Dmf. 1914  J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo 72:
The match wad be fizzlin' oot and burnin' his fingers. Then he wad spark anither.
Ags. 1924  M. Angus Tinker's Road 39:
A wind that sparks the peat.

2. tr. To spatter something with liquid or dirt, to bespatter, soil, to spot with mud (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I. and ne.Sc. 1971). Sometimes with up. Also fig. Vbl.n. spirkin, a drop from a splash (Sc. 1894 in Child Ballads (1956) V. 377). Fif. 1806  A. Douglas Poems 81:
Young lasses' fame, my dainty joe, Is unco easy sparkit.
Sc. 1825  Jam.:
You're sparkin' a' your white stockings.
Slk. 1832  Hogg Altrive Tales 178:
His coat was all sparked over with blood.
Peb. 1838  W. Welsh Poems 25:
Round their lugs they yerket The tripes an' trollies o' the ewe, Till a' the grund was sparket.
Kcd. 1933  L. G. Gibbon Cloud Howe 36:
Most likely sparked up with glaur.
Abd. 1946  J. C. Milne Orra Loon 22:
Splashin' in the basin, Sparkin' a' the wa'.

3. tr. With in: to sprinkle, scatter (seed), to mix in (in small quantities), vbl.n. sparkin, a sprinkling; to scatter dung on a field (Ork. 1971). Cf Spart. Mry. 1825  Jam.:
Shall I spark in some of thai grass seeds?
Abd. 1894  Trans. Bch. Field Club III. 142:
The phrase was, “to spark in” the bere or “to pit a sparkin o' bere amo' the aits.”

4. intr. To throw out a fine spray of droplets or tiny particles; to sputter, spit forth (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; I., ne.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Lnk., sm.Sc. 1971), hence sparker, a sausage; to issue, come forth, fall as or in the manner of sparks (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), to fly in all directions. Edb. 1812  P. Forbes Poems 40:
Now glass an' guts [of his watch] did spark an' splarge.
Lnk. 1873  A. G. Murdoch Doric Lyre 57:
I maun dicht my sparkin' pen.
Sh. 1897  Shetland News (25 Dec.):
Da brü is sparkid apo da gless, an' laid him in smiddereens.
Dmf. 1910  R. Quin Borderland 53:
To wash their fleshbags — get 'em dried, And cook their clag and sparkers.
Abd. 1912  J. Stephen Donside Lilts 28:
Bit burstin' pipes gart hoose wives cry, ‘The watter oot is spirkin'.
Ork. 1948 1 :
The hail was sparkin affo the riff.
Ags. 1953  Kirriemuir Free Press (3 Sept.):
When hauf-blawn bubbles spark't or burst Or didna rise a' richt.

5. impers. To rain slightly; to spit with rain (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I. and ne.Sc. 1971). Vbl.n. sparkin, a light shower of rain (Abd. 1971). Abd. 1868  G. Gall MS. Diary (6 July):
Windrawing the hay, and colling it. . . . There was a spirking of a shower after brakefastime.

[O.Sc. spark, a drop, 1568, to bespatter, 1513.]

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"Spark n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 13 Dec 2018 <>



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