Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WHIG, n.3, v.4 Also whigg. [ʍɪg]

I. n. Sc. Hist.: orig. a nickname for an adherent of the National Covenant of 1638 and hence of Presbyterianism in the 17th c., later applied esp. to the Covenanters of S.W. Scotland who rose in arms in the reigns of Charles II and James II; “by rigid Episcopalians, it is still given to Presbyterians in general, and in the West of Scotland, even by the latter, to those who, in a state of separation from the established church, profess to adhere more strictly to Presbyterian principles” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). The word was adopted into Eng. in the late 17th c. in the above sense but in 1679 transferred to the Exclusioners who in that year opposed the succession of James, as being a Roman Catholic, and hence at the Revolution of 1688, was extended to the anti-Jacobite party, the word Tory being applied to their opponents, both parties retaining these names until the middle of the 19th c. when Liberal was substituted for Whig and Conservative, except in partisan usage, for Tory. Also attrib. Comb. Whig-faced. Hence whiggery, Presbyterianism, esp. in its 17th c. application; whiggie, dim. form used contemptuously; whigling, id., in the more modern sense. Edb. 1713  W. Mitchel Seasonable Warning 2:
All the Whigs in the Bow would have risen in Arms, the Men with Swords, and the Women with the Tangs.
Sc. 1714  G. Lockhart Memoirs 128:
The first of these was bred a Lawyer, and, after the Revolution, raised to the Bench upon Account of his Whiggery and Disloyalty.
Sc. 1721  R. Wodrow Sufferings ii. ii.:
The poor honest People, who were in Railery called Whiggs from a kind of Milk they were forced to drink in their Wandrings and Straits, became Name-fathers to all who espoused the Interest of Liberty and Property through Britian and Ireland.
Sc. 1738  W. Meston Poet. Wks. (1802) 156, 164:
You Whig-fac'd Knave . . . Except it were in holy wars, That is to say, in Whig Kirk planting.
Sc. 1816  Scott O. Mortality vii.:
I'll hae nae whiggery in the barony of Tillietudlem. . . . I'll hae to take the hills wi' the wild whigs, as they ca' them.
Ags. 1834  A. Smart Rhymes 131:
Let graceless whiglings jibe an' jeer.
Lnk. 1868  W. M'Hutchison Poems 50:
He has as lang in council sat As whiglin' friend.
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Moss-Hags xi.:
[He] caught sight of Clavers' prisoner . . . “My Whiggie, I have you now,” he cried.

II. v. In vbl.n. whig(g)ing, playing the part of a whig, adhering to Presbyterian and anti-Jacobite principles. Sc. 1818  Scott O. Mortality xxxvi.:
He will hardly neglect the parade of the feudal retainers, or go-a-whigging a second time.
Slk. 1819  Jacobite Relics (Hogg) 102:
Whigging, and prigging, and a' new fangleness.

[The orig. of the word is in some dispute. It occurs first c.1645 in the North of England in the sense of a country bumpkin and in the sense of Presbyterian in O.Sc. in 1649. The etymology suggested by Wodrow above connecting the word with Whig, n.1, is invalidated by the synonymous Whiggamore, q.v., of which whig is prob. an abbreviated form. In sense II. whig is found in O.Sc. 1692.]

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"Whig n.3, v.4". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2019 <>



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