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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BAUK, BALK, BAWK, Baulk, Baak, Back, Baux (pl.), n.1, v.1. [bɑ(:)k, bǫ:k Sc. (see P.L.D. §§ 85, 93); bɒ:k sm.Sc., s.Sc.; bɑk Ork.]

I. n.

1. A beam of wood, a plank; the front-board of a farm-cart used as a seat by the driver (Fif., Ayr. 1975).Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
Lay that bit bauk across, an' syne tak' the aul' pleuch ryn [rein].
Lnk. 1775 Weekly Mag. (26 Jan.) 158:
John Bowie, a miner, no sooner set his foot in the hatch [sic], than the baulk or bow of it gave way, and he fell to the bottom of the shaft.
Ayr. 1830 Galt Lawrie Todd I. iii. ix.:
Mr Hoskins armed himself with a great balk.

2. The tie beam or cross beam, the joist connecting the rafters of a house or other building. Pl. also bax. Now chiefly north.Eng. according to N.E.D. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1750 in G. D. Bentinck Dornoch Cath. and Par. (1926) 296:
Non can ring or go near the Church Bell without a Ladder and some Dales laid upon the Balks.
Sc. 1825 Jam. s.v. Sile, n.:
The lower beam [in a roof] is called a jeest, or joist; the one above that a bawk; and sometimes a third is added, called a weebawk.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Lay it up on the backs to dry.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales xvi.:
An' hanged him . . . on the balks o' his ain house.
sm.Sc. 1993:
She'll see my hide on the bax afore hers.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 14:
The skillet skailed, bluid struled
Sutherland cursed tae hae
Sic reid hauns.
Hingin thro the sinnons
O its hin haughs
Harrigals fleitin in watter
The swine swayed
And the bern bauks creaked.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings, etc. 217:
Big again your cosie nest Up in oor auld cart shed; There's walth o' room upon the bauks, An' ye'll be hidden frae the hawks.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 127:
The voice of mirth Unbounded, echoes frae ilk chimla tap; An' bauks an' kipples ring, wi' festive glee.
w.Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes in Homespun iv.:
Oh, thae nichts in that high-wa'ed kitchen wi' its hame-cured hams on the bauk.
Rxb. 1798 R. Douglas Agric. of Rxb. 26:
The older barns are generally too low in the walls, and admit only of very short joists, here called balks, towards the junction of the cupples.
Uls.2 1929:
Balk, Baulk, a cross piece of timber fastened to the couple in the roof of a house.

Combs.: (1) balk broad, the platform or scale of a weighing machine; Deriv. baukie, a nickname for one who superintends the weighing of goods, a weigh-master; (2) Bauk-en', the end of a cross beam; (3) bawk hight, bauk(e) hich(t), — heicht, as high as the rafters; (4) bauk-tree, a joist. (1)Inv. 1722 Steuart Letter Bk. (S.H.S.) 187:
Iron balk broad and two weights.
Ags. 1894 People's Friend (7 May) 299:
There ye hae twa to twa, an' the banker as baukie, puts in his word, an' settles it a' his ain wey.
(2) Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween xii.:
But whether 'twas the Deil himsel, Or whether 'twas a bauk-en', . . . She did na wait on talkin To spier that night.
(3) Sc. 1715 Ramsay Chr. Kirke (1721) ii. viii.:
He lap Bawk-hight.
Abd. 1895 G. Williams Sk. of Scarbraes 29:
The maister, comin' hame at nicht, Surveyed the field an' lap bauk heicht.
Ags. 1901 W. J. Milne Reminisc. of an Old Boy App. 294:
He jumpit bauk hicht, an' lat oot a lood yowl.
Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 333:
I'll down three guineas; whan he does them see He'll jump bauke hich, an' be fou pack wi' me.
(4) Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 50:
Bauk-tree, a joist; a tie-beam stretching from wall to wall. Also back-tree.

3. The beam of a balance, pair of scales or steelyard. Obs. or dial. in St.Eng. (N.E.D.). The pl. form is due to the two arms or to the two scales of the balance. Used fig. in 1860 quot. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1825 Jam.2:
The young lamb comes as often to the bauk as the auld ewe.
Sc. 1854 H. Miller Schools and Schoolm. xii.:
In all your dealings, give your neighbour the cast of the bauk, — “good measure heaped up and running over,” — you will not lose by it in the end.
Cai.1 1932:
Baak. Used for a balance [as well as for 1 and 2].
Inv. 1718 Letter Bk. Bailie J. Steuart (S.H.S. 1915) 82:
Ther is a barell, balk, and weights aboord for weighing the meall.
Bnff.9 c.1927:
Bauks, balance for weighing.
Bch. 1929 (per Abd.1):
Pit it on the bauk an' ye'll see gin ye hiv wecht or nae.
Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems ix.:
The kittle bauk o' mortal's kevel, That man's aware, stands nearer level.
wm.Sc. [1835] Laird of Logan (1868) 398:
Ye hae been weighting and weighting at the mountains in scales every Sabbath day sin' ye cam' amang us, but I ne'er saw ye putting up the bauks till this day.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 17:
Still thou [the Muse] maun try tae come up tae the cauk, Syne aiblins I'se gie thee twa days o' the bauk.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 112:
I've seen sma' schisms rise to great, An atom turn the bauk o' fate, And sink it in dispeace.

Phrases: (1) Bauk and brade, — breds, bauks and breds, a beam with scales for weighing large articles; (2) brods and bauk, meaning as in (1); (3) deal the bauk, settle an account or dispute.(1) Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems and Songs 245:
Man, Paisley is the Key for trade, And Glasgow is the bauk and brade.
s.Sc., n., w.Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 50:
Bauks and breds, a weighing beam for articles (as wool, etc.) too large for scales. Also bauk and breds (s[outh]).
(2) Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 112:
He left to them a routin' horn, A pair o' brods an' bauk.
(3) Bch. 1929 (per Abd.1):
Ye maun deal the bauk atween yersels, I winna pit in ma word.

4. A hen roost.Sc. 1771 W. J. Mickle There's Nae Luck Aboot the Hoose in Scots Minstrelsie (ed. J. Greig 1893) II. 235:
There's twa fat hens upon the bauk They've fed this month and mair.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Sh. Folk-Lore 167–168:
But on the bauk sit two cocks, the one white and the other black.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Back. The beams in a hen-house on which the hens roost.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xii.:
It's little I hae for ye, for our meal ark is nigh toom, and there's no a kain hen left on the baulks.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 65:
The cocks that croosest craw, Frae aff the bauks, wi' necks weel drawn — Are aft' the first to fa'.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle iii.:
Auld Dugald brought in his twa kain hens yesterday; ane's on the bauk, and the cauld corp o' the ither o' them's in the pantry.
Gsw. 1884 H. Johnston Martha Spreull (1930) 80:
Some gangeral gipsies . . . broke into oor ain hen-hoose, and took awa' ten as guid laying hens as ever stood on a bauk.
Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser The Yelpin' Stane 39:
She wasna on the bauks this mornin'; I doot the tinklers maun hae nippit her.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 194:
The yellow cock's unwelcome scream, Skirls frae the bauk, right tame.
Kcb. 1897 S. R. Crockett Lad's Love ix.:
Also the Drumquhat poultry were awake. They had come down from their sleeping-bauks and were contentedly picking about among the straw.

5. The flooring laid on the bauks of a kiln.Bwk. 1916 T. Wilkie in Bwk. Naturalists' Club 98:
He took great pleasure in tormenting the miller with throwing isles (ashes) out, when he threw sheelin' into the ogee, to dry the corn upon the baulks (kiln-floor).

6. The space between the flooring and the roof; hence (1) a loft or apartment; (2) a church gallery.(1) Slk. 1820 Hogg Winter Ev. Tales (1821) II. 41:
But quhan yer Maigestye jinkyt fra me in the baux, and left me in the darknesse, I was baiss to kum again wi' sikkan ane ancere.
(2) Lth. 1932 (per Lnk.3):
It was sacrament Sabbath, so the wains a' sat i' the bauks.
Lnk. 1927 W. Pairman W.-L.:
Bauks or Bawks . . . applied to the gallery in a church.
Ayr. 1873 Notes and Q. 4th Series xii. 306:
I hae seen the folk in his time sitting in the balks of the kirk like bykes [hives] o' bees.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Lilac Sunbonnet xxiii.:
Gin ye are ready to flee up to the blue bauks, there's a heap o' folk in this congregation that's no juist sae ready yet to follow ye!

7. A seat in a boat, esp. a fishing boat.Sc. 1907 D. MacAlister Echoes 29:
An' the mast o' ivorie, An' the bauks o' siller.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Back . . . A thoft or seat in a boat.
Mry.1 1927:
Baak, a seat in a boat. In the deep-sea boat the seats were named slip-baak, pump baak, byoch baak or bewch baak. [Cf. O.E. bolca, a gangway.]

8. A bench, a seat in a house.Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems on Different Occasions 203:
Come, Sym, sit down and gies your crack, And crook your houghs down on the bawk.

9. The swingle-tree of a set of harrows (Fif. 1957).

II. v. To secure a cow's head during milking-time.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T. Misc. (1762) 240:
Ah me! shall I baulk my cow?

[O.Sc. (1) balk, bauk, bak, baik, a wooden beam: (2) balk, baak, baik, beam of a balance; balk here corresponds in meaning to O.N. bjālki, a beam, Norse bjelke, id.; cf. also Du. balk, hens' roosting place; Ger. balken, rafter, loft. Bauk, v., in II. above comes from balk, n., meaning a wooden frame in a cow-house for securing the cow's head when being milked (found in Eng. dial. (see E.D.D.)). The Sc. dictionaries do not give bauk with this meaning, which, however, will be found under Baikie, n.2, 2.]

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"Bauk n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Apr 2024 <>



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