Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHAUP, n.3 Also whawp (Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 70), wha(a)p. Used only in phr. a whaup in the rape, “a doubling, a whink” (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 473) appar. always used fig. and proverbially: something amiss; a hitch, snag, catch, some quirk that might cause the breaking of a bargain or prevent the expected accomplishment (Kcd. c.1900, Rxb. c.1930). The expression in 1890 quot. is an adaptation of this. Sc. 1721  J. Kelly Proverbs 305:
There is a Whaap in the Reap.
Ags. 1808  Jam., s.v. Quhaup:
It is customary to suspend a man by a rope round his middle from a rock called Fowls-heugh near Dunnottar, for the purpose of catching kittieweaks and other sea-fowls. . . . On one occasion, he, who was suspended in this manner, called out to one of his fellows who were holding the rope above; “There's a faut (fault) in the raip.” It being supposed that he said, “There's a whaup in the raip,” one of those above cried, “Grup till her, man, she's better than twa gow-maus.” In consequenee of this mistake, it is said, no exertion was made to pull up the rope, and the poor man fell to the bottom, and was dashed to pieces.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian xv.:
But famous John Semple of Carsphairn saw the whaup in the rape.
Ayr. 1822  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 132:
From the features, and whole countenance of the case, there was, undoubtedly, some most confounded ‘whap in the rape.'
m.Lth. 1857  Misty Morning 141:
I doot there's some whaup i' the rape. I dinna like that stoppin' an' stitterin' wark at a'.
Ags. 1890  A. Lowson J. Guidfollow 34:
I'll pet a whaup in his raip. I'll watch him.

[The explanation given by Jam. is a piece of folk-etymology. Whaup is prob. a corruption of Wap, n.2, a loop, coil. For a further development of the phr. see Whaup, n.1, 1. (2). O.Sc. has whawp in the rope, a.1628.]

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"Whaup n.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2017 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/whaup_n3>

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