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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.

Pike, Pyk(e, Pyik, v. Also: pilk. [ME. and e.m.E. piken (c 1325), pyken (Piers Plowman), also pek (c 1449), OE. pic- or pícung, glossing L. stigmata (Corpus Gloss), vbl. n. f. unrecorded *pic- or *pícian, or *pícan, to puncture, of unknown ulterior origin. Cf. Pike n.1, F. piquer to prick, pierce, Welsh pīgo to prick, sting, peck; Pik v.2 Also in the mod. Sc. and north. and midl. Eng. dials.]

1. intr. To probe, prod or dig with a pointed instrument. a1400 Leg. S. vii. 754.
He saw a wal wes fow thyke & his mynowris thare gert he pyke In entent to caste it done
1513 Doug. ii. viii. 44.
With instrumentis of irne we pyke and seik Round al about
Ib. viii. Prol. 168.
Bot I mycht pyke thar my fyll Or penny come owt
1560 Rolland Seven S. 5293.
To pyke and holk and vndermine the towre

b. tr. To peck (an eye) with the beak, as a bird. — a1500 Henr. Fab. 1161 (Bann.).
Schir Corby Rawin … Quhilk pyket hes full mony schepis e
1570 Sat. P. xxii. 52.
The pyet pyke thy ene on gallous set

c. To pyke out (of), to pick or lever (something) out of its normal place. — a1500 Bk. Chess 789.
His [the adulterer's] eyne suld baithe out of his head be pilkit
1513 Doug. iii. ix 88.
With a scharpyt … steyng of tre Out dyd we boyr and pyke hys mekil e
1638 Henderson Serm. 159.
Ilk sin that they committed pyked out a stone and undermynded the walls

d. To cleanse with a pick or the like. — 1562 Knox in Calderwood II. 204.
Have yee not seene one … pyke his nailes … when … vices were rebooked

2. tr. a. To steal (money, goods, etc.) (from, fra another). Also fig. b. To steal the contents of (a purse or the like). c. To rob (a person).Also absol.a., b. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2071 (Ch.).
Thair sall na pedder … pyke ȝour pellet fra me
c1500-c1512 Dunb. xiii. 39.
And sum pykis pursis
Id. Flyt. 157 (M).
Thow pykis the powtrie and scho pullis of the pennis
1530 Lynd. Test. Pap. 678.
Quhen preuelye ȝe did pyke [: dyke] Ane chekin frome ane hen
1567 G. Ball. 202.
They sell ȝow als the sacramentis seuin … Ȝour pursis for to pyke
1612 James VI in Ellis Orig. Lett. 1 Ser. III. 106.
To cause youre officers … pyke shillings from poore Skottismen
c1650 Spalding I. 363.
Honest menis meins, yea pure ones pvrssis, wes daylie pykit
1660 Ure Rutherglen 73.
They pyke, steill and rub the stowckes
1661 Peebles B. Rec. II. 49.
For advyseing hir woman to pyke tua sheaves of corne
1675 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. IV. 660.
Many … persons … found ther goods and moneyes rufled and pyked from them clandestinly
(b) 1602 Conv. Burghs II. 143.
And gif the merchandis guidis beis … stowin pyikit or prewele put to syid
fig. a1585 Polwart Flyt. 748 (T).
Thy … paremeonis … Pykit from Irisch Italianis ar to blame
c. a1500 Henr. III. 170/20.
That practik for to pike & pill the pure
absol. 1611 Inverness Rec. II. 86.
Thow hes being ay pykand and styand
1615 Orkney Bp. Ct. (ed.) 31.
Sturdie beggeris … quha … overlayis the cuntrey begging, pyking [etc.]

3. tr. To choose or select with care. 1513 Doug. Direct. 107.
My spreit … To pyke the sentens as I couth als playn And bryng it to my purpos was full fayn

b. To acquire or earn (praise for an action). — c1590 Fowler II. 14/10.
I confes in deid that an scoller of … litil vnderstanding can not pyke mekill praise for his trauel

4. To seek or find occasion of (a quarrel). b. To pyke thank, to curry favour: cf. Pike-thank n. a1500 Henr. Fab. 2429 (Ch.).
Ane wickit man Quhilk dois the pure oppres … And pykis at thame all querrellis that he can
1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 98.
Sum prygpenny, sum pyke thank with prevy promyt

5. a. To pike up, to lift, to gather. b. To pike out, to choose (one person or thing) in preference to another; to select; to pick out.a. 1513 Doug. viii. Prol. 162.
Than prevely the pennys begouth vp to pike [: like, dyke, byke]
b. (a) 1560 Cal. Sc. P. I. 541.
Yff any myd way culd be pyked out to remove this difference
1565 Cal. Sc. P. II. 158.
[Such Scottishmen might have been] pykit out [that … would not put their honour in jeopardy]
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 31.
The judges not chosin to judge bot pykit out to acquyte
Ib. 58.
Scho pykit out ane man
1590-1 R. Bruce Serm. 57.
Christ is not made mine because I pike him out of the heavens but [etc.]
c1610 Jok Uplandis Newis fol. 3 a.(b) 1602 Colville Parænese Ep. 11.
It becummith vs rether to pyik out all passages that [etc.]

6. a. To pike up (a coast), to sail along, in navigating; to ‘hug’. b. To pike on the wind, to sail close to (on) the wind. (Cf. F. piquer au vent, id.) 1513 Doug. iii. Prol. 35.
Few knawis all thir costis sa far hens To pike thame vp perchance ȝour eyn suld reill
Ib. v. 18.
And vp we pyke the cost of Epyrus
Ib. x. 99 (Sm.).
The dangerus schaldis and costis wp pykit [C. vppykyt] we
1600-1610 Melvill 169.
He cust about and pykit on the wind halding bathe the helme and scheit

7. To pick (a lock), as with a pointed instrument. 1671 Acts Sederunt ii. 104.
Least the rebells pyke or break up the locks

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"Pike v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 11 Dec 2023 <>



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