Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WULK, n. Also wilk, welk; wylk (Sh.); wullick. Dims. wulkie, wilkie. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. whelk, in Scot. gen. referring to the periwinkle, Littorina litorea, as distinct from the larger Buckie, Buccinum undatum (Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 17; Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past and Present 46, wilkie; Dmb. 1889 in D. Macleod Poet. Lennox 249). [wʌlk, wɪlk; Sh. wəilk]

1. The periwinkle mollusc and shell (Gall. 1905 E.D.D.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 275, wilk, wulk; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. Combs. dog-wulk, the dog-periwinkle, Purpura lapillus (Ags. 1940), white wylk. e.Lth. 1722  Justiciary Reports (1861) 690:
Seeking wilks among the rocks at the back of the Admiral Island.
Sh. 1774  G. Low Tour (1879) 159:
They perform the cure [for jaundice] by a powder made of Wilks and their shells dried and bruised together.
Fif. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XII. 538:
The shells are mostly wilks (periwinkles) and muscles.
Fif. 1883  W. D. Latto Bodkin Papers 78:
Puddlin' i' the sea, gatherin' welks.
Rs. 1884  Crofters' Comm. Evidence II. 1152:
Two girls and three boys from Leurbost have been taken to the fiscal's office under the control of a policeman for taking oysters out of the ebb in 1864; mussels and wilkies were taxed.
Sh. 1900  Shetland News (22 Dec.):
I used ta hunt da limpet an' da wylk.
Arg. 1914  J. M. Hay Gillespie i. ix.:
Jock was off at the wulks wi' the big ebb.
Abd. 1961  P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 38:
Did ye ever . . . bile a curny wulks in an aul' seerup tin?
Ayr. 1971  P. O'Connor Doun the Bath Rocks i. x.:
Big white wullicks were sticking to the rocks.
Cai. 1974  :
Hingan 'egither lik a wilk — said of a decrepit person.

Phrs. and combs.: (1) as fou as a wulk, very drunk, “tight” (ne.Sc., Per., Ayr. 1974); (2) as thrawn as a wulk, very contrary or perverse; (3) wylk-bed, a bed of periwinkles; (4) wylk-ebb, the sea-shore where periwinkles are accessible at low-tide. To gang i'da wylk ebb, = to be reduced to penury (Sh. 1974); (5) wilk-mou'd, with a mouth like a whelk, having protruding lips. (1) Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr Duguid 115:
Being as fou's a biled wulk, he put three chairges in the gun, stapping them doon till it was primed to the muzzle, juist like himsel'.
Slg. 1935  W. D. Cocker Further Poems 50:
Juist to keep him cheerie, Gat fou as a wulk ance mair.
wm.Sc. 1949  Scots Mag. (May) 135:
Aye fu' as a wilk at twelve o' clock on a Saturday.
(2) Sc. 1928  J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 24:
Muckle Bess, as thrawn's a wulk (For days on en' she'd dort an' sulk.)
(3) Sh. 1973  New Shetlander No. 104. 18:
Bendin ower the wylk-bed, I began hentin up kuddie eftir kuddie o fine big black wylks. I was careful no ta tak ony white wylks or wylks aff a white ston. Uncle had said white wylks were unlucky.
(4) Sh. 1916  J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Janniwary 17):
Ye canna gadder berries i da wylk ebb.
(5) Sc. 1706  Short Survey Married Life 12:
An Old Wilk-Mou'd, Wirle-faced, Nipped Deformed Creature.

2. A nickname for an inhabitant of the island of Veira in Ork. (Ork. 1883 J. R. Tudor Ork. & Sh. 613, Ork. 1974). Ork. 1809  Old-Lore Misc. I. viii. 320:
There's naither a stirlin', . . . wilk, sheep, mare or bluidy puddin 'll vote for 'im.

3. A person, usu. a woman, with a sour face and a sour disposition. Peb. 1875  J. Douglas Sc. Wit & Humour 132:
An ill-set, sour, ill-willy wilk — She had a face 'twad yearned milk.
Lnk. 1895  W. Stewart Lilts and Larks 132:
Some keesent weezent wulks, wha look queens when deck'd in silks.

4. Jocularly, the nose, esp. in phr. to pick one's wulk (Ags., Fif., Dmb. 1974).

[O.Sc. wilk, a whelk, 1500, O.E. weol(o)c. The form wullick is a borrowing from Ir. dial. The form wilk is still common in Eng. dial., whelk becoming the accepted liter. spelling in the 17th c.]

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"Wulk n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Dec 2018 <>



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