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

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First published 1983 (DOST Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Pak, n.1 Also: pac, pack, pact, paik(e, paick, palk; pek. [ME. and e.m.E. packe (Ancr. R.), pakke, pak (14th c.), pack, palke (14–15th c.), MFlem., MDu. pac (Du. pak), MLG. pak.] A pack, in various uses.

1. A pack or bundle of wares or of possessions as tied together for transportation; spec., a pedlar's or chapman's pack.(1) c1420 Wynt. iv. 2654.
Or for chapmen as buthys [makis] Till oppyn and [to] schaw thare pakkys
a1500 Prestis of Peblis 190 (A).
At ilk fair this chepman ay was found Quhill at his pak was worth forty pund
1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 55.
The pyrat pressys to peill the peddar hys pak
a 1568 Sempill Sat. P. xlvi. 33.
Na pedderis pak scho [the boat] will ressaif
1572 Ib. xxxii. 57.
We merchandis all that with our merchand pakkis Did trauell
1583 Crail B. Ct. MS. 21 May.
Of ilk schapman for his pak presentit to the merkat ane pennie
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Pede.
Ane pedder is called an marchand … quha bearis ane pack or creame vpon his back
1600 St. A. Kirk S. 921.
[Five men] confest thair travelling with thair pakkis from the cost syid on the Saboth day
1630 Banff Ann. I. 64.
Ane merchandis pack … 12 d.; ane chopmanis pack of less worthe 6d.
1637 Edinb. Test. LVIII. 206.
Johne Glover chapman … certaine small wairis in his pack
(2) a1500 Sir Eger 2164.
A burges had been at the fare [had] … A little boy driving his pack
1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 326.
More than ane beist berand ane precious pak
(3) a1568 Pedder C. 26.
Thir cur coffeis that sailis oure sone And thretty sum abowt ane pak
1567 Edinb. Test. MS. 81.
In ane Frenche pak sex blak coueringis of steilbonettis
1575–6 Lanark B. Rec. 71.
[A custom of] ane plak of ilk pak or laid
1589-1600 Skipper's Acc. (Morton) 44 b.
For vi spros stane of lent … market with my awne marke withine Hery Bectertons paike
Ib. 73 a.
Reseuet for iii pakis bringene to the Rochell xv frankis

b. To beir a or the pak, to follow the calling of a packman or pedlar. c1500-c1512 Dunb. lx. 58.
With lut schulderis and luttaird bak Quhilk natur maid to beir a pak
a1570-86 Maitl. F. lxxvi. 13.
My secund brother buyr the pak Ane lytill quhyle vpon his bak

c. Allusively in proverbs or proverbial expressions.To oppin one's pak and sell none of one's wares, to make known one's intentions without acting on them.(1) 1560 Rolland Seven S. Prol. 177.
A man can sell nathing out of his pak Bot as he hes than present for the tyme
(2) 1560 Cal. Sc. P. I. 544.
To what propos shold yow open your pak and sell none of your wares or declare yow ennemyes to those whome yow can not offend?
c1600 Montg. Suppl. ix. 75. 1634 Buccleuch Mun. II. 356.
Iff ye find not the feild fair, oppin not the palk without selling waires
(3) a1628 Carmichael Prov. No. 1125.
Manie man dois lack that quhilk he wald have in his pack

2. With allusion to the pack as comprising a trader's or pedlar's stock of merchandise or a traveller's possessions.

a. An initial stock of merchandise; a means of setting up in business; hence, a means of living, more generally.Chiefly in particular collocations, as to help or support (a person) to or with a pak, also to help (a person's) pak, to contribute to his initial stock, help to set him up in business, or, more generally, give him a start in life, and to begin one's pak, to obtain one's initial stock, to set up in business, hence, to start a living.(1) 1531 Treas. Acc. VI. 38.
To Johne Stewart grume in the chalmer to help him with ane pak
1580 Edinb. Test. VIII. 40.
He gaif … to Normond Blacader … thrie hundreth merkis … to haif supportit him to his pak
1590 Edinb. Test. XXI. 323.
I leif to Johnne Mylne my broder germane ten merkis … to help him to ane pak
1593–4 Chron. Perth 63.
The Session ordains … to give an poor boy … ten merks to help him to an pack for winning of his living
1664 Misc. Maitl. C. II. 514.
To give a Craill boy to help his pack
(2) 1612 Edinb. Test. XLVII. 157.
I leiue … to … my oye … to begin his pak with all my blissing … ane thowsand pundis
1638 Household Bk. M. Stewart 30.
To my laidy to give ane chopman boy to begin his pack with 30 sh.
(3) 1558-66 Knox I. 44.
Butt I man have somewhat of everie ane of yow to begyn my pack agane which a preast and my wyif, a preastis hoore, hes spentt
(4) 1638 T. Hope Diary 77.
[My son] desyrit of me to advance to him … xm merks to by ane pensioun or a pack
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) 65.
As achisons, balbies and placks, which is enough, sir, for our packs

b. One's possessions, wealth, fortune.Also, plur.Chiefly in contexts concerned with losing, spending and wasting one's possessions, as to tyne one's pak, to lose all one's possessions, to be ruined, to be made destitute. Also to have a pak, to be wealthy.(1) 1501–2 Treas. Acc. II. 139.
To ane Spanȝart that tynt his pak … vj Franch crounis
1551 Perth Guildry MS. 277.
Our gildbrothir Anthone Carnewerth sum tyme merchand that quhair he be chance of sey hes tynt his pak and fallin in extreme pouerte [etc.]
1574 Glasgow B. Rec. (M.C.) 10.
To releve his extreme pouertie in tyneyng of his pak be the sey
(2) 1546 Lynd. Trag. Card. 199.
Had we with Ingland kepit our contrackis … Our marchandis had nocht lost so mony packis
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xv. 80.
For sum of thame wald be … lyk the quenis ladeis cled … I trow that sic sall mak ane red Of all thair pakis this ȝeir
Ib. lxxii. 56.
The quhilk hes … causit pure men be spulȝeit of thair pakkis
a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xliii. 47.
Men weill imployes thair paks That thame immortall maks
a1568 Bann. MS. 81 a/27.
Sen that my pak wes spendit Adew all liberalite
a1570-86 Maitland Maitl. F. xciv. 64.
Sum will spend mair [etc.] … Quhilk will gar mony pak decay
Ib. clxxviii. 74.
And thinkis it war ane fulishe act On rydin hors to spend thair pact
1578 Reg. Privy C. III. 39.
Having xii bairnis to sustene upoun the advantage of the said victuall, having wairit thair haill pak thairupoun
1587–8 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 22.
And … [they] spoilȝeit fra him his haill silver and pak extending to fyve hundreth merks money and als mekill worthe in merchandice
(3) a1568 Bann. MS. 81 a/12.
Quhen I wes prowd and had a pak … at the he burd I wes set

c. Also, in plur., Money, pelf, lucre, gain. 1556 Lauder Off. Kings 103.
With sum dispensand for pure pakkis That thay may brek ȝour prencelie actis

d. To mak (a person's) pak thin, to reduce him to poverty, to impoverish. c1500-c1512 Dunb. xvii. 17 (M).
Thir merchandis takis vnlesum win Quhilk makis thair pakkis oftymes full thin
1535 Stewart 27467.
And for na petie riche and puir wald spair … to mak thair pak full thin

e. With allusion to the pins or fastenings of a pack.The pak comes to the pins, one's fortune is exhausted; to be gone beyond pack and pack-pin, to have exhausted one's resources, to be ruined or destitute. For similar expressions in the mod. dial., see SND Pack n.1 2. a1605 Montg. Ch. & Slae 1297 (Wr.).
Whiles as good merchant tines as wins If old mens tales bee true. Suppose the pack come to [the] pins Who can his chance eshew?
1642 A Second Discovery of the Northern Scout 16.
I [am] gone, certainly beyond both pack and pack-pin

3. A bale or large bundle of some single commodity as packed in this way, as cloth, skins or yarn.Sometimes regarded as one containing a more or less standard amount of the commodity in question and so treated as a denomination of measure, stated by Skene (followed by Bisset) as amounting to half a ‘last’ (Last n.1 i). Hence attrib. in pak-met, measuring by the pack.For the phrase pok, pak and barrel, see Pok n.See also Hors-pak n.(1) 1416 Exch. R. IV. 252.
Quatuor pakkis lane
1482 Edinb. Chart. 169.
Of a pak wald xii d.; of a tvn wad xiii s. iiii d.
1495 Exch. R. X. 536. 1512 Treas. Acc. IV. 305.
For the fraucht of iiij gret pakkis canves for salis, ilk pak ane tune wecht
1602 Reg. Privy C. VI. 375.
Accustumat to pak … within pakis and treis of grof wairis … geir … of better valour
1621 Perth Kirk S. MS. 27 Mar.
Accuseit for oppining the port to latt in ane palk of woll
1625 Conv. Burghs III. 198.
Ane pak towes, thrie grit, … ane poik vnȝeoun seid thrie gritt
1632 Justiciary Cases I. 200.
And thiftiouslie … brak up ane grit pock or pak of hemp
1680 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS. 18 June.
Sex packs wooll
1684 Symson Descr. Galloway 35.
No fewer than eighteen score of packs of cloath have been sold thereat [Wigtown Fair]
(2) 1482 Edinb. Chart. 169.
Of a pak of lynt contenand a last v s. iiii d.
Of a pak of cunyngskynnis, lambskynnis [etc.]
1498 Acta Conc. II. 291. 1500 Halyb. 264. a1508 Kennedy Flyt. 445 (M).
Ane pak of flay skynnis fynance for to mak thé Thow sall ressaue
1520 Edinb. B. Rec. I. 197. 1569-73 Bann. Memor. 134.
The pokis of woull and packis of skynis
1588 Burntisland B. Ct. 3 Sept.
(b) 1600 Aberd. Council Lett. I. 90.
Ilk pek of woll or salt hyd
(3) 1511 (c 1580) Edinb. B. Rec. I. 134.
Thai sall pay for … the paks efferand to the raitt thairof and quantitie
1539 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 211.
And als dischairgis landuart baxstairis to sell thre half-penny breid under the payne of escheitting of all the paik broucht be thaim
a1568 Pedder C. 31.
Thay schamed schrewis … Steilis doun and lyis behind ane pak
1580–1 Edinb. B. Rec. IV. 194.
The … porteris … to suffer na pakis to pas furth of this burgh except thai se the samyn customit be the custome stamp
1593 Misc. 3 Spald. C. II. 24.
Ladnit with pakyne and pype ballis and cofferis of merchandizes sic as silkis holand … extending to fyftie pakes
1593 Conv. Burghs I. 398.
Concernyng the complaynt of Lanerk aganis Glasquow, for vplifting of … ane fleice of ilk pack
1597 Skene Verb. S. s.v. Serplath.
Ilk last is twa packes and ilk pack is als great als halfe ane sek of wooll skinnes and conteinis in weicht threttie sex sprusse stanes
1622-6 Bisset II. 209/2. a1603 Tract. Leg. Naval. 63.
The pettie custom … is 32d off the last and so much for everie fardell or pack
1682 Conv. Burghs IV. 34.
That there be no brecking of packs of the saids staple comodities till [etc.]
attrib. 1613 Dundas Fam. P. xliv.
Whairin thair wes some … objectionis proponit aganis the imbraceing of the paick meett

b. Applied to a small package; a packet. 1623 Edinb. Test. LII. 32.
Ten pak of preines at xij s. the pakit

4. Chiefly or only expressing contempt or disparagement: A company or set (of more or less disreputable or contemptible persons); a ‘gang’, ‘lot’. c1420 Wynt. iii. 762.
Than he fand that drowy doude Amang a pak off karlynys loud
1569 Misc. Bann. C. I. 50*.
For as to the nobilitie and thir new startand men, ar bot ane pak of fals greidie traytoris
? 1570 Sat. P. xx. 63. 1570 Ib. xxiii. 102. 1572 Ib. xxxi. 51.
[Murderers] and the Papists rynis togidder Thay ar ane blyssit pak
a1578 Pitsc. II. 136/10.
The proude pak of ȝow hiepocreitis
1590 Burel Pilgr. ii. xix. c1590 J. Stewart 95/557. a1651 Calderwood IV. 273.
Another railed upon in the streets by Kait the witche, and other the like bairds and naughtie packes
1653 Lindores A. 225.
Their goes the kirkmen, the divell take the pack of you
1657 Hibbert P. No. 19.
To play with a pack of wicked boyes
?1672 M. Bruce Sermon in Edinb. Tolbooth 3.
Hes he not a bonny pack of us think ye?
1682 Paisley Mag. (1828) 527.
For calling the councell … ane pack of beasts and sumphs

5. Attrib. or comb., in senses 1 or 3.With duk, guid, scheit, tow and twine. Also Pak-Thred n.Cf. Pakking vbl. n. 2.Pak guid, goods made up into bales or packs (sense 3). 1533 Wigtown B. Ct. 287 b.
For the wrangus haldene fra hym of a pak seyt [? = sheet] haill & feyre
1568 Edinb. Test. MS. 176 b.
xij stane of pack towis and pak threid
1597 Wedderb. Compt Bk. 80 marg.
My pak scheittis and pak towis
1598 Edinb. Test. XXXI. 319 b.
xj pack scheittis at x s. the pece
1612 Bk. Rates (Halyb.) 320.
Drilling and pakduk
1636 Edinb. B. Rec. VII. 186.
Thelate impost … upone the tun of goodes cuming from the eist, being partlie pak guid and pairtlie waynescott
1645 Edinb. Test. LXI. 118.
Certane pack tuyne and some towis

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"Pak n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Mar 2024 <>



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