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

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Rag, n. Also: ragg, rage, radg. [ME and e.m.E. ragg(e (c1310), rag, OE *ragg (cf. raggig rough), ON rǫgg a tuft or strip of fur, Norw. and Sw. ragg rough hair.]See also Rag-weke, Rag-wheel.

1. In earliest use, only in the phr. to rive in (into, to) raggis.

a. Of cloth: Into tatters. Cf. 2 below. b. Of other things: Into small pieces or fragments. lit. and fig.a. a1400 Leg. S. xxiv 411.
His clathis in ragis he rafe
c1420 Wynt. v 1912. a1570-86 Schaw Maitl. F. 384/20.
Thair may cum flaggis … And ryve ȝour foirsaill all in raggis
b. c1500 Rowll Cursing 138 (M).
And ruffy ragman with his taggis Sall ryff thair synfull saulis in raggis
1535 Stewart 6675.
Quhill mony targe and scheild Raif into raggis, and mony speiris brak
Ib. 11712.
The schippis draif on forland and on craigis And maid thame all that tyme to ryve in ragis
1686 G. Stuart Joco-Ser. Disc. 35.
Ryve aw to raggs

2. A shred or scrap (of cloth); a rag. 1540 Lynd. Sat. 2239.
I haif ane groit heir bundin in ane rag
a1568 Jok & Jynny 51.
Fyve fidder of raggis to stuff ane jak
1585 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 439.
The … raggis and clouttis lyand in the said places is … ane occasioun of infectioun
1595 Duncan App. Etym.
Lacinia, a plet, or rag
1662 Crim. Trials III 607.
Quhen we rease the wind we tak a rag of cloth and weitts it in water; and we tak a beetle and knokis the rage on a stone … Whan we wold lay the wind we dry the ragg
1695 Bk. Old Edinb. C. XXV 63.
Two that lookes after the rags the morters and beating stuff commonly called governours and two masters of salls which size and finish the paper

b. Used in pl., to denote tattered clothes. c1500-c1512 Dunb. (O.U.P.) 190/27.
Honest ȝemen … Ar now arrayit in raggis
15.. Sym & Bruder 28.
Quhen thai had reddit thair ragis
1583 Sempill Warning xx.
Thair return may be with tartane raggis

3. A remnant; something left over.In quots. 1566 and 1638, perh. with contemptuous reference to (chiefly or only) material objects used in the services of the pre-Reformation church. 1566 Bk. Univ. Kirk I 87.
Our brethren who … refuse the Romish ragges
c1590 Fowler I 29/76.
In my breist the rev[i]uing raggs of lowe may yit be kend
1638 Wemyss in Sc. Diaries 122.
Ane commone prayer bouk … so filthy polutted with the treue rittes and radgs of Rome

4. a. fig. and comb. in rag-footed (orig. ? = shod in rags), unsound (reasoning). b. Allusively, with reference to this. 1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xix.
Some rag-footed resons that we must refute
1657 R. Moray Lett. fol. 67 (31 Dec.).
I will let you find you are in the glaid's hands with your reason and the rag about the foot of it

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"Rag n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Dec 2022 <>



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