A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)
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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
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Slak(e, Slaik, v. Also: slaike, slayke, scla(i)k, slack, slakk-. [ME and e.m.E. slake(n (c1220), slak (Cursor M.), sclake (16th c.), early ME also slakien (c1175), OE slacian, f. slæc, Slak adj. Cf. Slok(e v., Slok(k)in v.] tr.
1. Only Doug.: To release, let out (sail, a horse's reins) in order to gain speed. 1513 Doug. iii viii 28.
We … went on burd … Syne slakis down the schetis and maid sayll [L. velorum pandimus alas] 1513 Doug. v xiv 7.
Now the le schete, and now the luf, thai slak 1513 Doug. viii xii 83.
Ay mar and mair dredand persute behynd, Sclakand schetis, and haldand rowme at large 1513 Doug. x v 34.
Sclaik 1513 Doug. xi xvii 48.
Sum hasty … at the flycht Sclakis thar brydillys, spurrand in all thar mycht(b) 1513 Doug. v iii 84.
The cartaris smate thar horssis fast in teyn With renȝeys slakkyt 1513 Doug. v xiii 123.
Thar renȝeis … With hys awin handys leit do slyp and slakkis [Ruddim. slakis]
b. To slacken, loosen, cause a release of tension. 1528 Lynd. Dreme 1020.
One schip did spedalye approche … And syne did slake hir salis, and gan to creip towart the land c1552 Lynd. Mon. 72.
Quhen that the peple doith repent Than God sall slak his bow, quhilk ȝit is bent 1611-57 Mure Dido & Æneas i 280.
Some sailes pull in, … some tacklings slacks
d. fig. To relax control. 1664 Pitcairn Spiritual Sacrifice 453.
If we do but a little slack our hand in watching, … atheistical thoughts may on a sudden break
2. To reduce, mitigate or remit (a penalty); to relax or abandon (a siege); to end (a quarrel); to give up (an intention); to fail to carry out (an action). b. With personal object: To pardon (a person). c. Const. infin. d. Quasi-absol. 14.. Acts I 90*/1.
Nor ther sall nayn of thir mendis wyth ony prayer be loussit na slakyt 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 1003.
At ȝour requeist He sall gang fre … Than Venus bad do slaik sone my arreist 1527–8 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 93.
Quhar the said Thomas occupyit nocht the said hous ve ordand sa meikill of the maill to be slakit [pr. salakit] a1538 Abell 17b.
That for pete of thame he [sc. the besieger] suld slaik the sege c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 1141.
The squyer hartlie him ressauit … And sa did slaik that mortall feid 1560 Rolland Seven S. 1990.
Thankand ȝour grace that … Ȝour sonnis deid … ȝe haue done slaik 1596 Dalr. II 473/9.
The seueritie of that sentence mitigatet efterward was and slaked, till perpetual prisone 1596 Dalr. II 143/26. 1627 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II 25.
That yow have … slaked and delayed the executioun of the said commissiounb. 1570 Sat. P. xxiii 28.
Quhen the Duke put thé to banischment … he was diligent To get thy peax and slaik thé of that weirc. 1567 Sat. P. iii 69.
To dance that nycht thay said sho sould not slak … And baid fra bed vntill sho hard the crakd. 1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Remitto, to send back, to slack
3. To assuage, mitigate, ease, occas. to the point of cessation (sorrow, pain, etc.). b. With personal object: To relieve (a person) of (sorrow or pain), to comfort (a person). a1400 Leg. S. xxix 497.
Allace! ded, quhen wil thu tak Me & [al] my sorou slak? c1475 Wall. xi 1138.
The deid tharoff is ȝeit in remembrance, I will lat slaik off sorow the ballance a1500 Bernardus 147.
It wyl slak sum part of sowrowis ser Of othir wyffys the sorow for to her a1500 Bernardus 146.
Slake 1562-92 Wode's Psalter (Treble) 154.
Uhan shall my sorowfull sighing slayke c1600 Montg. Suppl. ix 43.
Hald ȝour tung Ȝour paynis to slaik a1605 Montg. Sonn. li 5.
Vhilk slaiks my sorou, so to heir thé sing(b) 1662 Forbes Cantus (1666) xxiv.
Dolor after death, Should slackb. a1400 Leg. S. xxxix 254.
Prayand thame … Hyme of his sorou for to slake 1513 Doug. i iii 99.
He wyth his wordis gan slaik thar mynd and swage a1585 Polwart Flyt. 230 (H).
Salues, to slaik thé of thy saires 1635 Dickson Wr. 58.
He being now slaiked, is like a bruised lamb … that seems to be eased [etc.]
4. To reduce or moderate the force or intensity of (a passion, conviction, courage, anger, disease, etc). b. With personal object, const. of the passion. a1500 Henr. Prayer 26.
Vse derth, O lord, … And slak thy plaig that is so penetryfe c1475 Wall. vi 224.
Quhar men may weipe, thar curage is the less; It slakis ire off wrang thai suld radres c1475 Wall. vii 672.
He thocht to slaik Makfadȝanys hie curage c1515 Asl. MS I 200/8.
For to stanche & slaike thair pryde I sall [etc.] 1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 980.
I … Do slaik my wraith 1533 Boece 238.
This batell aduersare, has nocht aluterlie slakkit ȝoure curage 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2538 (Ch.).
How we sall slaik the greit murmell Of pure peopill 1570 Cal. Sc. P. III 435.
We … fyndis our seiknes no thing slaikit 1596 Dalr. II 255/7.
Huntlie … sa sharplie … sett on thame that thay … the Inglismen, slaiking thair force, cam never twa myles beyond Tueide 1596 Dalr. II 405/15.
Nouther to slaik ony thing of thair furie afor tha had won Edinburgh 1676 Brodie Diary 356.
I heard my uncl Francis was drawing near his end; that he had noe desir of Mr. James Urquhart's compani, for he did slak his groundsb. a1578 Pitsc. I 398/3.
The Inglischemen … slaikit of thair curage, tuike porpos … to … flie
5. To satisfy (an appetite or desire); also, to vent (one's anger) on. b. With personal object.(1) a1500 Henr. Fab. 526 (Bann.).
Syster, ȝe watte, of sic as him a scoir May nocht suffise to slak ȝour appetyte a1500 Henr. Orph. 281 (Ch. & M.).
Thus gat he noucht his t[h]rist to slake no[r] mend a1500 Henr. Orph. 558.
Bot he suld drink ineuch … to slake the birnand thrist a1500 Henr. Fab. 2619.(2) a1585 Maitl. Q. 250/23.
The goddis … among them selfis accord On me thair yre to slaikb. 1581 Hamilton Cath. Tr. in Cath. Tr. (STS) 84/16.
Granting to euerie kirk man his prettie vinche vith quhome sindrie tymes he can nocht be slakit 1609 Crim. Trials III 75.
Ȝe said, and he war the Devillis man, ȝe had gevin to him the thing that wald slaik him [sc. he had killed him] a1651 Calderwood VII 603.
Have ye not als good teachers as are in the land? … may ye not be slaiked with your owne?
c. transf. ? To consume (a quantity of liquid (cf. Point n.3)) in a greedy fashion or ? an example of Slaik v. in the sense: To consume in a messy fashion, to lick up.This usage is not exactly paralleled in the fairly extensive later and mod. use of Slaik v. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1590.
Ye look lyk a sow slacking a poynt
7. ? To overwhelm, overcome. a1578 Pitsc. I 121.
James Earle of Douglas … past fordwart with displayit banner to slaike the kingis airmie … quhilk nochtwithtstanding being mekill les nor the Earle of Douglas airmie ȝeit they excellit far in strength and curage abone thair enemeis
8. intr. Of a cloud: To release (rain). c1460 Wisd. Sol. 475.
Quhen the cloud slaikis, the rane our-strenklys the erde
9. Of courage, sorrow, disease, etc.: To diminish, lessen or become less intense, to moderate or subside. c1475 Wall. xi 128.
A man he slew ay at a straik. The layff fled fast; thus can the power slaik 1533 Boece 266.
That … the hardyment of the army suld nocht slaik, the kingis chargeit [etc.] 1533 Bell. Livy I 250/10.
Gif the pest slakit ane litill, thai suld glaidly send support 1535 Stewart 10297.
Thair curage than begynnis for to slaik, Waxand … dull and sad 1535 Stewart 13225.
Remeid, To caus the seiknes fra the heid to slaik c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i 346. c1475 Wall. xi 528.
The myst scalyt [1570 slaikit], the son schawyt fayr and brycht 1587-99 Hume 95/33.
The feuer began to slaik a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xx 4.
Els dolour, eftir death, Suld slaik, vhen I war slane
b. Of a person or animal: To undergo a reduction or diminution, also, to the point of cessation, in respect of (an emotion, attitude, etc.); to weaken or fail in (some respect); to cease from, of an activity. Also without const.(1) c1475 Wall. v 656.
On othir thing he maid his witt to walk, Prefand giff he mycht off that languor slaik [M. slalk] 1535 Stewart 35983.
Se ȝe be blyth and glaid, And slaik also of all ȝour syte and sorrow 1567 G. Ball. 232.
I will ȝow exhort … To slaik of ȝour sleuth, & schaw furth the treuth(2) 1533 Boece 255.
Thai slaik, and failȝe in corage(3) a1568 Scott xx 44.
My body bad lat be, And of thy siching slaik 1604-31 Craig i 13.
The fleeis els full, from sucking more will slake 1638 Henderson Serm. 339.
They will be busy when their master or mistress are looking to them, but when their back is turned, then they slack of that(4) 1596 Dalr. II 214/32.
The peple, throuch the dinn and cry tha maid, slaiket nocht lytle 1638 Adamson Muses Thr. I 94.
I must not slack, For by and by the tide will call us back 1657 Balfour Ann. III 427.
Quhen the cow slack'd, they haue a way to presse her nipples [etc.]
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"Slak v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/slake_v>