Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
BIRK, n.1 [brk + ɛ + ʌ]
1. The birch tree, betula alba. Gen.Sc. Also used in northern Eng. (E.D.D.).
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 99:
Some loo to keep their Skins frae Lirks, Some loo to woo beneath the Birks. Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 74:
Birk will burn, be it burn drawn [i.e. drawn through a burn]; Sauch will sab, if it were simmer sawn. m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 48:
Twae glandered mears, a dwaibly stirk, Hens, ae auld wife, a wauflike birk — That's whaur I dwal. Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fife and Kinross 161:
We meet first to the West, Corbie, called also Birkhill, from a Park of Birks surrounding the House to the South. Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (2nd ed.) vii.:
A mavis frae a silver birk was singin' a lullaby.
Comb.: birk wine. (See quots.)
Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill The Scots Kitchen 236:
Birk wine, juice from the birch tree, sugar, raisins, almonds, crude tartar. Abd.19 (Deeside) 1934:
In my early schooldays at Inchmarnoch we used to tap a birch tree a foot or so from the ground and insert in the hole a pen nib or other sma' spoot, so that the sap might drip into a subjacent cup. In my recollection the stuff was gey wauch and usually dirty, but it was drunk neat and uncompounded. We called it birk-wine.
2. In pl., a small wood consisting mainly of birches. Gen.Sc.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems, etc. 37:
An' ithers sing o' winding Tay, An' eke the Birks of Invermay. Ayr. 1794 Burns Birks of Aberfeldie (Cent. ed.) i.:
Come, let us spend the lightsome days In the birks of Aberfeldie!
Hence birkie, adj., clad with birch trees.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 263:
We totter through the birkie bank, an' doiter owre the brae. [Prob. a variant of Birken.]
3. “Spars made of birch laid horizontally on the couples of a roof and running from gable end to gable end” (Cai.3 1934).
Ork. 1734 Ork. Inventory in Ork. Antiq. Soc. (1923) 65:
Three sufficient harrows and harrowing irons . . . three new birks. Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (31 March):
The fire-end or kitchen was first built. . . . The “birks” were laid on, then the “sma' wud,” the divots and floss, the whole being well tied down with “simmons” [ropes of straw, etc.] and “benleens.”
4. (See quots.)
(a) “Birk, the bark of a tree; birchwood” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).
(b) “Birk, the outer skin on big tangles. Same word orig. as Eng. bark” (Ork. 1929 Marw.).
5. Phrases: both expressive of absolute bareness. (See quots.) Cf. Birkie, n.3
(1) Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
As bare as de b[irk] a jøl-day, of something very bare and naked. (2) Sh.7 1934:
As bare as da birk o' Yule e'en . . . was commonly applied in describing anything that was particularly bare and naked.
You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.
"Birk n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Jun 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/birk_n1>
Try an Advanced Search