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

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Slak, n.1 Also: slac(k, slake, slaik, slayk, sleeke. [North. ME slak(ke (? a1400), e.m.E. slake (Malory), slack (1682), ON slakki a hollow between hills. In some senses there may be influence f. Gael. sloc a pit, slough. Also in the later Sc. and north. Eng. dials.] Freq. in place names or as a geographical feature used to define boundaries.

1. a. A hollow or depression in the ground. b. A valley between hills, lower (freq. boggy) ground between stretches of rising ground; a bog or boggy ground such as is freq. found on the floor of a valley. (1) De ix li. de Catslak; 1456 Exch. R. VI 224.
De firmis … loci de Katsclak; 1459 Exch. R. VI 544.
Ascendendo in longitudine tam in aqua quam terra usque ad How slak; 1458–9 Burnett of Leys App. 163.
Discendand … to the heid of the Grene-slak; 1540 Reg. Great S. 488/2.
Ascendand the strip of Toddell slak quhill it cum to the taill of the bog of Toddell slak; 1554 Prot. Bk. R. Lumsdane 31.
As the said burn runs … threw the broken myre callit the Broom Slack; 1565 Bamff Chart. 99.
The Fairnie slack; 1569 Berw. Nat. C. XXIV 424.
Ad magnam foueam vulgariter lie Greit Slak et Rishypannis; 1315 (?15 … ) Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 312.
William Harknes in Mitchelslaks; 1684 Wodrow Hist. II (1722) App. 166.
pl. Suth our the hill Bawschaddir … to the blak slakkis; a1460 Reg. Cupar A. I 131.
Half a akar of land lyand in the vait slaks; ?1516 Dumfries B. Ct. 7a.
6 mercatis terrarum de Gayst Slakkis; 1606 Retours I Inq. Spec. Dumfries (38).
The samen is mercheit be stanes … quhill it come to the end of the Gallow slackis; 1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II 326.
(2) And sua vp the slak on the est syde of the teild landis; 1388–9 MacRae Early Sc. Texts No. 2.
In the how slak be ȝonder woddis syde Full dern I sall my men of armys hyde; Doug. xi x 69.
Moich hailsum stovys ourheldand the slak; Doug. xii Prol. 46.
Ascendendo per le Langburne ad le Slak ad verticem seu superiorem partem le Ledgadlie; 1523 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 144.
Doun the bra Sym braid … Than all the ȝungkerris bad Will … doun the glen to gang … Than gelly Johine … He slippit swiftly to the slak, And rudly doun he raid it; Scott ii 185.
Rycht far doun in ȝone slak; Bann. MS 156a/22.
Fra the mekle vynd end to the deip slak; 1632 Cullen B. Ct. 13 April.
From that doun to the slak within the park to the sea syd; 1636 Orkney Bp. Ct. MS 99.
(b) Slayk; 1576 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 156b.
(3) In a slak thame enbuschit thai; Barb. xiv 536.
Til it cum til a litil slak; 14… Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 248.
On the esthalf of a slak; 14… Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 248.
Stewart 8437.
Ane greit battell … Of armit men thai laid intill ane slak; Stewart 8488.
Had not bene ane slack was in the sands, Weill had he payit ȝow tratouris; 1570 Sat. P. xxiv 39.
(b) Slaik; 1534 Bamff Chart. 65.
Ane how or slaik callit the Firneslak; 1595 Bamff Chart. 143.
(c) We … keeped the advantage of a sleeke, and the hills with our horse till the foot … came up; 1644 Hist. Fragm. I 42.
(4) Fra slak till hyll, oure holme and hycht [W. Fra slak to slak, oure hill and hicht], He trawalyd all day; Wynt. vi 1615.
Quhite as the snaw that euer lay in slak; Rolland Ct. Venus iii 146.
(b) Slonkis and slaik [were] maid slidderie with the sleit; Henr. Fab. 1835.
(5) attrib. [The lands of Brumehill … descending … to] ald town slak stripe; 1541 Prot. Bk. Sir J. Cristisone 75.
Ad viam ascendendo Slakmethy et inde descendendo per viam usque ad Slaklethy; 1315 (15 … ) Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 312.
[The council] ordains the thesaurer to repair the stone work at the slaik dub slouss; 1689 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 10 Sept.

2. A (man-made) pit or hole. Also transf., a hollow or dust-bath made by a hen. b. ? A watering hole or pond. Quot. at b may be erron. for Flake n. Mony man makis a slak in an-vthir manis vay and fallis fyrst tharin; Wisd. Sol. 451.
Settand into ane holl valle or slak, Within the lystis for the triumphe mak, War Sabyne virgynys revyst by Romanys; Doug. viii x 91.
transf. Quhair trow ȝe that I was? Doun in ane henslaik [M. hie slaik] and gat ane fellon fall And lay betuix ane picher and the wall; Lichtoun Dreme 85 (B).
b. Ane woman … standand in ane slake [I. flaik ȝett, 1728 slonk] bringand watter … ran fast away … . The kingis horse seand this lap and fred the slake; Pitsc. I 208/11.

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"Slak n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Sep 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/slak_n_1>

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