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

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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. We … went on burd … Syne slakis down the schetis and maid sayll [L. velorum pandimus alas]; Doug. iii viii 28.
Now the le schete, and now the luf, thai slak; Doug. v xiv 7.
Ay mar and mair dredand persute behynd, Sclakand schetis, and haldand rowme at large; Doug. viii xii 83.
Sclaik; Doug. x v 34.
Sum hasty … at the flycht Sclakis thar brydillys, spurrand in all thar mycht; Doug. xi xvii 48.
(b) The cartaris smate thar horssis fast in teyn With renȝeys slakkyt; Doug. v iii 84.
Thar renȝeis … With hys awin handys leit do slyp and slakkis [Ruddim. slakis]; Doug. v xiii 123.

b. To slacken, loosen, cause a release of tension. One schip did spedalye approche … And syne did slake hir salis, and gan to creip towart the land; Lynd. Dreme 1020.
Quhen that the peple doith repent Than God sall slak his bow, quhilk ȝit is bent; Lynd. Mon. 72.
Some sailes pull in, … some tacklings slacks; Mure Dido & Æneas i 280.

c. In Nisbet after Purvey. Slake your nettis to tak fisch; Nisbet Luke v 4.
Thai … slakit … the junctouris [P. ioyntours] of gouirnalis; Nisbet Acts xxvii 40.

d. fig. To relax control. If we do but a little slack our hand in watching, … atheistical thoughts may on a sudden break; Pitcairn Spiritual Sacrifice 453.

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. Nor ther sall nayn of thir mendis wyth ony prayer be loussit na slakyt; Acts I 90*/1.
At ȝour requeist He sall gang fre … Than Venus bad do slaik sone my arreist; Doug. Pal. Hon. 1003.
Quhar the said Thomas occupyit nocht the said hous ve ordand sa meikill of the maill to be slakit [pr. salakit]; 1527–8 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 93.
That for pete of thame he [sc. the besieger] suld slaik the sege; Abell 17b.
The squyer hartlie him ressauit … And sa did slaik that mortall feid; Lynd. Meldrum 1141.
Thankand ȝour grace that … Ȝour sonnis deid … ȝe haue done slaik; Rolland Seven S. 1990.
The seueritie of that sentence mitigatet efterward was and slaked, till perpetual prisone; Dalr. II 473/9.
Dalr. II 143/26.
That yow have … slaked and delayed the executioun of the said commissioun; 1627 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II 25.
b. Quhen the Duke put thé to banischment … he was diligent To get thy peax and slaik thé of that weir; 1570 Sat. P. xxiii 28.
c. To dance that nycht thay said sho sould not slak … And baid fra bed vntill sho hard the crak; 1567 Sat. P. iii 69.
d. Remitto, to send back, to slack; Duncan App. Etym.

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). Allace! ded, quhen wil thu tak Me & [al] my sorou slak? Leg. S. xxix 497.
The deid tharoff is ȝeit in remembrance, I will lat slaik off sorow the ballance; Wall. xi 1138.
It wyl slak sum part of sowrowis ser Of othir wyffys the sorow for to her; Bernardus 147.
Slake; Bernardus 146.
Uhan shall my sorowfull sighing slayke; Wode's Psalter (Treble) 154.
Hald ȝour tung Ȝour paynis to slaik; Montg. Suppl. ix 43.
Vhilk slaiks my sorou, so to heir thé sing; Montg. Sonn. li 5.
(b) Dolor after death, Should slack; Forbes Cantus (1666) xxiv.
b. Prayand thame … Hyme of his sorou for to slake; Leg. S. xxxix 254.
He wyth his wordis gan slaik thar mynd and swage; Doug. i iii 99.
Salues, to slaik thé of thy saires; Polwart Flyt. 230 (H).
He being now slaiked, is like a bruised lamb … that seems to be eased [etc.]; Dickson Wr. 58.

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. Vse derth, O lord, … And slak thy plaig that is so penetryfe; Henr. Prayer 26.
Quhar men may weipe, thar curage is the less; It slakis ire off wrang thai suld radres; Wall. vi 224.
He thocht to slaik Makfadȝanys hie curage; Wall. vii 672.
For to stanche & slaike thair pryde I sall [etc.]; Asl. MS I 200/8.
I … Do slaik my wraith; Doug. Pal. Hon. 980.
This batell aduersare, has nocht aluterlie slakkit ȝoure curage; Boece 238.
How we sall slaik the greit murmell Of pure peopill; Lynd. Sat. 2538 (Ch.).
We … fyndis our seiknes no thing slaikit; 1570 Cal. Sc. P. III 435.
Huntlie … sa sharplie … sett on thame that thay … the Inglismen, slaiking thair force, cam never twa myles beyond Tueide; Dalr. II 255/7.
Nouther to slaik ony thing of thair furie afor tha had won Edinburgh; Dalr. II 405/15.
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 grounds; 1676 Brodie Diary 356.
b. The Inglischemen … slaikit of thair curage, tuike porpos … to … flie; Pitsc. I 398/3.

5. To satisfy (an appetite or desire); also, to vent (one's anger) on. b. With personal object. (1) Syster, ȝe watte, of sic as him a scoir May nocht suffise to slak ȝour appetyte; Henr. Fab. 526 (Bann.).
Thus gat he noucht his t[h]rist to slake no[r] mend; Henr. Orph. 281 (Ch. & M.).
Bot he suld drink ineuch … to slake the birnand thrist; Henr. Orph. 558.
Henr. Fab. 2619.
(2) The goddis … among them selfis accord On me thair yre to slaik; Maitl. Q. 250/23.
b. Granting to euerie kirk man his prettie vinche vith quhome sindrie tymes he can nocht be slakit; Hamilton Cath. Tr. in Cath. Tr. (STS) 84/16.
Ȝe said, and he war the Devillis man, ȝe had gevin to him the thing that wald slaik him [sc. he had killed him]; 1609 Crim. Trials III 75.
Have ye not als good teachers as are in the land? … may ye not be slaiked with your owne?; Calderwood VII 603.

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. Ye look lyk a sow slacking a poynt; Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1590.

6. To extinguish, put out (a fire) (a) Wallace gert slaik the fyr; Wall. vi 842.
(b) [He] caused the said officers … extinguish and slack out his fyre; 1672 Craven Ch. in Orkney I 52.

7. ? To overwhelm, overcome. 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; Pitsc. I 121.

8. intr. Of a cloud: To release (rain). Quhen the cloud slaikis, the rane our-strenklys the erde; Wisd. Sol. 475.

9. Of courage, sorrow, disease, etc.: To diminish, lessen or become less intense, to moderate or subside. A man he slew ay at a straik. The layff fled fast; thus can the power slaik; Wall. xi 128.
That … the hardyment of the army suld nocht slaik, the kingis chargeit [etc.]; Boece 266.
Gif the pest slakit ane litill, thai suld glaidly send support; Bell. Livy I 250/10.
Thair curage than begynnis for to slaik, Waxand … dull and sad; Stewart 10297.
Remeid, To caus the seiknes fra the heid to slaik; Stewart 13225.
Rolland Ct. Venus i 346.
The myst scalyt [1570 slaikit], the son schawyt fayr and brycht; Wall. xi 528.
The feuer began to slaik; Hume 95/33.
Els dolour, eftir death, Suld slaik, vhen I war slane; Montg. Misc. P. xx 4.

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) On othir thing he maid his witt to walk, Prefand giff he mycht off that languor slaik [M. slalk]; Wall. v 656.
Se ȝe be blyth and glaid, And slaik also of all ȝour syte and sorrow; Stewart 35983.
I will ȝow exhort … To slaik of ȝour sleuth, & schaw furth the treuth; G. Ball. 232.
(2) Thai slaik, and failȝe in corage; Boece 255.
(3) My body bad lat be, And of thy siching slaik; Scott xx 44.
The fleeis els full, from sucking more will slake; Craig i 13.
They will be busy when their master or mistress are looking to them, but when their back is turned, then they slack of that; Henderson Serm. 339.
(4) The peple, throuch the dinn and cry tha maid, slaiket nocht lytle; Dalr. II 214/32.
I must not slack, For by and by the tide will call us back; Adamson Muses Thr. I 94.
Quhen the cow slack'd, they haue a way to presse her nipples [etc.]; Balfour Ann. III 427.

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"Slak(e v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/dost/slake_v>



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