Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WAUKRIFE, adj. Also wauke-, waukrif(f)e, wa(u)lke-, waak-, wak(e)-, -rife, -rif(f), wakryfe. [′wɑ:krɪf, ′wk-]

1. Disinclined or unable to sleep, sleepless, wakeful, able to do with little sleep (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 275; Rnf. 1920; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also used adv. and subst. Also transf. of nicht = Eng. sleepless night, and wind. Also in n.Eng. dial. Deriv. waukrifeness, sleeplessness, insomnia (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Sc. 1724  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 41:
In my Bosom thou shalt ly, When thou wakrife art or dry.
Abd. 1759  F. Douglas Rural Love 21:
Their grating snore Bids wakriff wives their fate deplore.
Ayr. 1790  Burns Elegy Capt. M. Henderson x.:
Wail thro' the dreary midnight hour, Till waukrife morn!
Per. 1810  Letters J. Ramsay (S.H.S.) 269:
With all my wakerifeness, get six or seven hours of sleep and rise refreshed.
Bnff. 1844  T. Anderson Poems 62:
How he laid a waukrif ghaist . . . Whilk in its grave could find nae rest.
Clc. 1850  J. Crawford Doric Lays 9:
Waukrife scream'd the bieldless bird.
Gall. c.1870  Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 185:
As I wauner'd roun' the shore, In a kin' o' a waukrife swoon.
Ayr. 1891  H. Johnston Kilmallie II. 19:
During this period of wakerifeness he had longed for action of some sort, but could not get up in the dark.
Mry. 1897  J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 130:
It was a wild, rough night, and the “waukrife ” could hear the roaring and rumbling of the burns.
Dmf. 1917  J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 37:
Jeems Mouncey had a very waukerife nicht last nicht.
Abd. 1924  Scots Mag. (July) 295:
It's jist mysel' that's waukrife-e'ed, An' granein', “O! fat neist?”
Slg. 1949  W. D. Cocker New Poems 37:
A' things sleep, sae quate an' still, Save for the waukrife win'.
Sc. 1965  Weekly Scotsman (15 July) 19:
Every time I step out of doors with this man is a waukrife time, even when the declared aim is to find a place to sleep.

2. Watchful, alert, vigilant (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Adv. wakrifly. Sc. 1724  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 83:
Sae in saft Slumbers did I ly, But not my wakryfe Mynd.
Abd. 1788  A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 56:
Now Bydby is intirely o' the catch, Sleeps not a wink, but wakrifly does watch.
Kcb. 1806  J. Train Poet. Reveries 117:
The wakryfe cock, ere dawning day Proclaims the morning cheerfully.
Sc. 1821  Scott Pirate iv.:
She was up early, and down late, and seemed as wakerife as the cat herself.
Ayr. 1822  Galt Provost xxviii.:
There was a wakerife common sense abroad among the opinions of men.
s.Sc. 1857  H. S. Riddell Psalms cxxvii. 1:
Gif the Lord keepena the citie, the watcheman is waukrife in vaine.
Per. 1895  R. Ford Tayside Songs 116:
Ilka flash disclosed their course To the waukrife watchin' e'e.
Sh. 1952  J. Hunter Taen wi da Trow 217:
He wis far mair waak rife Dan ony whaap within da laand.

3. Easily awakened, lightly sleeping (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Ork., Abd., Ags. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. Rnf. 1806  R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 212:
Abune my breath I daurna speak, For fear I rouse your waukrif daddie.
Per. 1835  R. Nicoll Poems 132:
At the clatter, up startit the waukrife auld wife.

[O.Sc. walkryfe, wakeful, 1480, walkryfeness, vigilance, 1606, from Wauk, v., 1., and -Rife, suff., 2.]

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"Waukrife adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Oct 2018 <>



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