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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Rax, v. Also: raxe, racks. [ME rax (Cursor M.), raxen (c1325), roxen (Piers Plowman), OE raxan. Also in the 19th c. dials. of Northumberland and Cumberland.]

1. reflex. To stretch oneself, esp. as on rising from sleep or rest. a1400 Leg. S. xl 703.
That bysnyne … vaknit as of hewy slepe, & raxit hyme
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2220.
Heir sall Pauper rise and rax him
1563 Ferg. Answer in 1563-72 Tracts 21.
To put bothe your handes to your eares and then to streiche them out as the daw doeth when she raxeth her in the morning
a1603 Anc. Prophecies 15.
The deed shal rise … And rax him rudely
1635 Dickson Wr. 184.
The Christian man that is risen, is still raxing himself
1638 Henderson Serm. 469.
As people, when they first put on new clothes, then they rax themselves, that they may join the better to every part of them
c1650 Spalding I 54.
He sould seim to rax him self and schak him self looss

2. To tense or strain one's body as a preliminary to further action, to rouse oneself (to action). Also fig.With and without const. 1513 Doug. iv xii 93.
Thrys scho hir self raxit vp to rys; Thrys on hir elbok lenys
Ib. xii xii 84.
He raxis hym, and hevis vp on hie Hys bludy sword
Ib. xiv 38.
Turnus … Hynt [a stone] in hys hand … And raxit hym on hicht thar vndir
a1540 Freiris Berw. 503 (B).
I coniure thé That thow vprys … Owt of this troch quhair that thow dois ly Thow rax thé sone
Ib. 519. 15.. Clar. i 968.
[The lion] raxit him, and, ramping in his ire … lape upone him
c1578 Reid Swire 69.fig. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 12/20.
He … Is lyk a lyone rissin up agane And as a gyane raxit him on hicht

3. tr. To stretch or extend (a thing) by, or as by, pulling. 1513 Doug. xi xvi 61.
Now hir handis raxit hyt [a bow] euery sted
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 51/34.
While tyme the silver corde yet will not rax
1613 P. Forbes Comm. Rev. 229.
He had a long chaine which yet was further raxed

b. To extend (one's limbs) to their fullest extent; to stretch. 1658 R. Moray Lett. fol. 184.
I have drawn my breath, and raxed my limmes

c. To extend (a person's body) by stretching it forcibly. ?a1500 Remembr. Passion 378.
Lord Jesu, that tholit tobe raxit and drawin apoun the croce
Ib. 449.
The croce … quhair thy precius innocent body wes panfully rewin and raxt
1622-6 Bisset II 3/7.
He sufferred maist crowell martirdome … , his armes and legis beand raxed on ane croce

4. intr. To become longer by being pulled or extended, or by the action of reaching out.lit. and in fig. context. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 9/68.
To gar his lymmis langar wax They straitit him … Quhill to the rude thay gart him rax
Ib. 101/44.
The quenis dog begowthe to rax, And of his band he maid a bred
a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 367 (Wr.).
Then Dread [etc.] … Forbade me minting any mare, To raxe above my reach
1633 Rutherford Christ's Napkin 14.
I have too short an arm to rax so high

spec. In references to execution by hanging. b. Of the rope: To extend as far as possible. c. Of the person hanged: To extend by dint of one's own weight.b. a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 368.
Thou has a wedy teuch On Mount Falconn, about thy crag to rax
a1585 Maitland Maitl. Q. 44/39.
Quhill that thay gar ane widdie rax
c. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 210/19.
Quhill that the gallowis gar him rax
1529 Lynd. Complaynt 213. a1605 Montg. Flyt. 90 (T).
Thow will rax in ane raip
1603 Philotus 709.

d. To grow or become bigger. — c1420 Wynt. v 604.
The tad begouth to wax, And wyth-in hym rerde and rax

5. To hold sway, rule, prevail, to wield power. Also to rax and ring, regne and rax.Also with non-material subject.(1) c1420 Wynt. ii 1516 (W).
Hir dochter Synope efter hir deid Rais and raxit in hir steid
a1500 Henr. Fab. 539.
He [the cock] … traistit ay to rax and sa to rin Quhill [etc.]
a1538 Abell 111a.
Charlis Duke Burgund heir beguth to rax
1535 Stewart 28947.
Nane nobillar in all his tyme did rax
Ib. 34288.
Bot rycht schort quhile tha leit it [peace] rax or lest
1556 Lauder Off. Kings 132.
Ȝour vitious lyfe … Sall nocht mak ȝow to rax heir lang
Id. Minor P. i 603.
Gyf that this idoll [covatice] rax, it will all mer
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. 303/10.
Rax thai I trow thai sall wraik man and wiff
a1578 Pitsc. I 346/21.(2) c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 2045.
All desyrit that he suld regne and rax
a1500 Henr. Fab. 820.
Ib. 1123.
Than sall ressoun ryse, rax, and ring
1535 Stewart 3071.
Mony theif and tratour in his tyme Raxit and rang, and hereit all the land
a1568 Blyth Bann. MS 113a/23.
Wer thair ane king to rax and ring Amang gude fallowis cround

b. To flourish; to prosper. — c1420 Wynt. iii 548 (W).
In the tyme … That Sampsone raxit in Israell
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 237/51.
Thus sall thow never in Goddis seruice rax [: sax, actis, pakkis]

6. tr. and intr. In the phr. to rax out: To stretch out, extend.lit. and 1649 Sc. N. & Q. III 122.
Jeane Broune racksed out two arms quhilk she could not stirre before
1685 Lintoun Green (1817) 61.
Neddy, like to fa', Rax'd out a hand
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 436.
I rax out all the strength of my soul
intr. 1622 Scot Course of Conformity 152.
The lines and cords of mens wit that creep in and raxe out may serve for civill and secular mets and merches

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"Rax v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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