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

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First published 1986 (DOST Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Prik, v. Also: prik(k)-, pryk, prykk-, prikt-, prick, preck, prekk-. P.t. and p.p. prikkit, prickit etc., also prickt(e. [ME prikie(n (c 1200), prike(n (Chaucer), pryke(n (Trevisa), prikke(n (c 1325), pricke(n (14th c.), prik (14th c.), pryk (Rolle), e.m.E. prykkyn (c 1490, Prompt. Parv.), prick, late OE prician to pierce, also ? *prīcian. Cf. also Prek(e.]

1. tr. To pierce with something pointed; also, to pin or transfix to (unto) the ground etc.; also absol. a1500 Henr. Fab. 767 (Ch.).
Ane bow he bent … and, or he steird, The foxe he prikkit fast vnto the eird
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Apoc. i 7.
And ilk ee sal se Him, and thai that prickit Him
1560 Conf. Faith in 14.. Acts II 529/1.
For of nature we ar sa deid, sa blind and sa peruerst, that nouther can we feill quhan we are prickit [etc.]
1584-9 Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. Prov. No. 60.]
[The spider feleth gif her webe be prickte bot with the poynte of a pinne
absol. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1243.
Soone prikis the trie that wil prove a thorne

b. intr. To thrust at as if to stab, to stab at. c1475 Wall. vi 473.
Sum brak a pott, sum pyrlit [1570 prikkit] at his E

2. tr. fig. a. To cause pain or injury to, to ‘stab’, ‘pierce’, ‘sting’. 1375 Barb. xiii 634 (C).
[Fortune] That quhile apon a man will smyle And prik him [E. prik on him: see 7 (3) below] syne ane othir quhile
a1500 Lanc. 1050.
No word he spak, so prikith hyme the smart … that stood vnto his hart
a1597-1617 Hist. Jas. VI (1825) 65.
Bot in end finding himself prickit with the jugements of God, of the greavous puneisment wharewith transgressors have bene plaigit in tyme bygayne

b. To affect with a feeling of guilt or shame. c. To ‘get at’ or ‘hit at’, to accuse, reproach or mock, esp. by implication or indirectly. a1500 Henr. Fab. 690 (Bann.).
Heir me now declair My conscience that prikis [v.rr. prikkis] me so sair
1558-66 Knox II 89.
In applicatioun quhairof he was so speciall and so vehement, that sum … feilling thair selffis prickit, said in mockage, ‘We mon now forget our selffis [etc.]’
1568 Buch. Indict. 42.
The cheif murtherar and vtheris convenit … begouth to examinat sum wyiffis that haid spokyne rakleslie … bot nocht without purpois. Quhairwith being prickit thai desistit fra ony proceding in that examinatioun, fering … to fynd the gretar perell
1571 Cal. Sc. P. III 573.
[Except it be] sic as fyndes thame selffis priktit with sic odious crymes quhilk … thay think he occupying the charge can not weill remit
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 26.
Ȝit sum tyme the rumouris sa neirly prickit thame to the quick
1596 Dalr. I 152/13.
Nathir was this lycht lawgyuer with dishonestie and shame pricked
1597 Misc. Spald. C. I 136.
Being prickit with ane giltie conscience

3. To pierce or prick (a person suspected of witchcraft) with a pin or the like, so as to discover the Devil's mark (Mark n.1 7 b); also to prick (the mark); and to insert (a pin) into (in) a person for this purpose.(1) 1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 23/21.
[The devil] giues them his marke vpon … their bodie, which remaines … insensible how soeuer it be nipped or pricked by any
1618 Trial Isobel Inch 9.
Quhilk pairt was immediately thairefter … prickit with ane greit preyn
(2) 1649 Lesmahagow Ann. 158.
The said George did prick pinnes in everie one of them, and in diverse of them, without pain the pinne was put in
(3) 1655 Sc. Hist. Rev. XIX 210.]
[A scotch-man, who pretended knowledge to finde witches, by pricking them with pins
1661 Crim. Trials III 602.
The magistrat … caused Johne Kinkaid in Tranent the comon pricker to prik her and found tuo marks wpon hir
1662 Rec. Old Tolbooth in Bk. Old Edinb. C. V 97.
Being incarcerat … for … unwarrantable pricking of persones suspect of witchcraft. That he shall not prick or torture any persone suspect of witchcraft in tyme comeing
1678 Reg. Privy C. 3 Ser. VI 13.

4. To mark by piercing or pricking, in various special applications.

a. To write down (music) by means of ‘pricks’ or musical notes (e.m.E. prick n. (1597 in this sense)).Cf. Prik adj.2 and ME and e.m.E. prikken, pryken etc. (c 1300 in this sense). c1550-c1580 Art of Music 6.
Nochttheles for passaig of the sangis to and fro, quhilk ar prikit eftir the consuetud of dywers nationis
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1751) 86.
And they shall spell as they do speak, And they shall sing as they do prick

b. To prik (the cart) to mark a position on (a map) in this way. (e.m.E., 1598.) c. To prik (doun) (a person), to designate him by marking his name in a list; to designate (an officer) by marking his name in a list. (e.m.E., 1557.)b. a1605 Montg. Misc. P. xlviii 104.
Maisters and pilots, cunning in that arte, Went to the compas for to prik the carte
c. 1629 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. III 291.
Our further pleasure is that yow continew Sir Coline Campbell shireff of Forfar, if the persoun alreadie prickt for that shyre be not entred in that charge of shireff
1680-6 Lauder Observes 71.
All his priviledge was only to prick doun any on he pleased, theirby to get him put upon the list of them who ware to be chosen
1694 Annandale Corr. 79.
The king … is … in councill here pricking sherriffs

5. a. To pin (something) out, to fix down or stretch out by means, or as by means, of pins or skewers. Also, to pin (something) back or out. 1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 49/18.
Such an ironie hardnes of his sinnowes so stiffelie bended out, that it were not possible to prick out as it were the skinne of anie other person so far
1612 Crim. Trials III 219.
Deponis, he is ane mercheand, being in the kirkȝaird of Hawik priking sum skynnis [etc.]
1617 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 8 Feb.
Twa lambis, quhilk ȝe slew to ane of ȝour bankettis & prikket the skynnis on the wall
1672 Stirling B. Rec. II 10.
And selling the same [old kye] for huddron vaillis by cutting aff the papes and lewers and priking them bak

b. To fasten (a person or thing) in something, as a wrap or bag, by pinning it. a1568 Bann. MS 22 b/37.
Sall lordis and ladeis die & rot … Quhen thay ar prickit in a scheit Than lost is all thair ryaltie
a1568 Bann. MS 114 a/29.
Thair man be hung abowt ȝour hals Pricket in ane woll poik, Off neis powder ane grit loik

c. ? To secure by pegs or the like. 1662 Hossack Kirkwall 375.
To cause build the said boat of ane sufficient mould with ane foirfute till the foir balk sufficiently prickit and made water tight

6. To urge on (a horse) by pricking it with the spur, to spur (a horse); more gen., to ride (a horse) fast forward. ?1438 Alex. ii 1454.
Schent worth the armes at that tyde Hald … the nobill steid That he na him prik endlang the meid
1513 Doug. ix i 29.
Now tyme is to prik hors, Now tyme fortill assay ȝour cartis and fors
a1586 Lindsay MS 73.
He prikkit his hors becaus to heist him to ryn
1632 Lithgow Trav. ix 395.
Pricking his horse with neck-stropiat spurres

b. fig. To urge, drive, incite (a person) (fordwart, -ward, to some action or achievement or to do something); to goad, provoke, arouse, incense; to rouse to action, stir into action; also to prik up. a1500 Henr. Orph. 101 (A).
And quhen he saw this lady solitar … Prikkit [B. Preckit] with lust he thocht withoutin mar Hir till oppres
1513 Doug. x ii 2.
Queyn Iuno than … Prykkyt with felloun fury [L. Acta furore gravi] thus furthbrayd
1567 Sat. P. vii 33.
Behalding than … The schame [etc.] … That saikles men … did sustene, Ane priuat hart it mycht prik vp with tene
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 52.
This haitrent itself was of itself sufficient to prik hir fordwart to hir enemeis slauchter
1582 Cal. Sc. P. VI 147.
[Pardon me if I write rashly for I am so] priket [that I must needs utter my] seying [how (etc.)]
c1590 Fowler I 16.
I wes spurred thairby and pricked fordward incontinent be translatioun to mak thame sum what more populare then [etc.]
1598 6th Rep. Hist. MSS App. 660/2.
Sence the returne of my servand Foullis, I found myself uncessantlie prikked by the law of that honest freindship quhilk I bear wnto you, to hasten [etc.]
a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 697.
He is better stoped nor he is pricked

7. intr. To spur on one's horse, to ride hard or fast; also, to ride forward, advance on horseback, more generally.Freq. to com prikand and with prep. phrase complement of the adversary, destination, etc.; also to prik furth.(1) 1375 Barb. xi 570 (E).
Befor thaim all come prikand A knycht
Ib. xix 347.
Thai suld cum prikand fast, and sla With sperys that thai mycht ourta
Ib. 507 (E).
And gert discourriouris hastily Pryk [C. Prek] to se quhar thai war away
Ib. vi 421, xvii 157 (C). c1420 Wynt. vi 2236.
Makbeth … sayd, ‘Lurdane, thow prykys [C. prekis, L. previs] in wayne’
Ib. viii 5377.
And Inglis men Sexti armyt come on hym then On hors prikand [W. prekand, C. prekande] delyverly
Ib. 6960.
The qwhethir offt ryot wald thai ma To pryk and poynd bathe to and fra
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 2378.
Pas hame als fast as thow may prik
Ib. 1483, 1547.(b) ?1438 Alex. i 2132.
His hors forbure he in na thing Bot prikkit ay into ane ling
Ib. 1177, 2431. 1533 Boece 300 b.
Apoun ane stalwart stede prikking
a1578 Pitsc. I 405/13.
Thay war all bordoraris and could ryde and prick weill
(2) 1375 Barb. ii 430.
Thai prikyt then out off the pres
Ib. xiii 57.
A gret menȝe … That … war horsyt welle For to pryk amang the archeris
?1438 Alex. i 131.
Caulus came prikand in that stour
Ib. 1058, ii 3035. c1420 Wynt. ii 1248.
Bot for ay thai saw so thyk Thare horsmen in to batayle pryk
Ib. viii 2258. c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 1300.
Towart the king com prikand Tholome
Ib. MS 7801.
Quhen he come to the toun of Effezon Faist to the ȝettis mad him prikand boun
a1500 Gol. & Gaw. 539.
He thinkis provese to preve … And prik in your presence to purchese his pray
a1500 K. Hart 191.
For and ȝe prik amang thir folk of pryde, A-pane ȝe salbe restit be the way
1533 Boece 282 b.
Haistele syne thai prikkit togiddir, quharethrow athir hoist … ionit thare haill power in bargane
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2247.
1570 Leslie 223.
Certane Frenche capitanes … encouraged the Inglis men to cum and prick dalie moir neir to the toun
(3) 1375 Barb. xii 467 (E).
Quhen we se thaim scalit sua, Prik we than on thaim hardely
Ib. xvi 114 (E).
That na man sall be sa hardy To prik at thaim bot sarraly
Ib. xiii 634 (E) (see 2 a above). a1400 Leg. S. iv 299.
He gert fele knychtis in a lynge Pryk efter thame in al thar mayne
?1438 Alex. i 1095.
He … prikked sa to the tuther party That he rushit richt sturdely [etc.]
Ib. 1946.
On thame he prikit than in hy
Ib. ii 3072.(4) 1375 Barb. viii 462 (E).
Thai … prykkyt furth sa wilfully To wyn the ladys
?1438 Alex. i 2319.
With that he prekkit furth in the preis
c1460 Alex. (Taym.) (ed.) 1855.
He prikit furth, ane hunder knychtis in rout, And forbad ony man to follow him out

b. transf. To speed forward (in a conveyance, generally, as a ship). 1589–90 Waus Corr. 447.
I had [heard] his grace tell his guid mother of your lordships guid seruice, and how ye prikit in your lytle schip

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"Prik v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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