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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BURKER, n. A murderer.Rs. 1996 Alec John Williamson in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 62:
First it was sacrifices, then it was witches, then it was the Burkers - but I'm not going into all that!
Abd. 1990 Stanley Robertson Fish-Hooses (1992) 113:
Noo it wis at a time whin there were many Burkers gan aboot, and it wis no safe for Travellers tae be on their toads.
Mearns 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. of a Wanderer I. 87:
Twa famed swine-dealin' burkers these, The Babbler and the Boar.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse, maistly in the Doric 65:
Stories . . . 'Boot robbers and burkers, and lifting the deid.

[From Burke, the notorious criminal, cf. Burkin' house,n.comb.]

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"Burker n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Jun 2023 <>



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