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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

BYKE, BIKE, Beik, n.1, v.1 [bəik]

I. n. Given in N.E.D. s.v. bike as north. dial. Gen.Sc.

1. “A nest or hive of bees, wasps, or ants” (Sc. 1808 Jam.).Sc. [1862] A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 320:
Where the scythe cuts and the sock rives, hae done wi' fairies and bee-bykes.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 103:
Nae henny beik, that ever I did pree, Did taste so sweet or smervy unto me.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 101:
Aneath whase bield real cosy like A drove o' emmecks had their byke.
m.Sc. 1979 Tom Scott in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 89:
His hide's that thick and coorse he can rype oot
bykes o wild bees and wilder wasps
impervious o their stings.
Fif. 1991 John Brewster in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 164:
Smoked oot bykes:
Hinnie-kames clutter.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) vi.:
My heid's been bizzin' like a bum bee's bike.

2. Extended uses.

(1) A dwelling, a habitation. Known to Abd.9, Abd.19, Lnk.3 1938.Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 293:
For nocht but a house-wife was wantin' To plenish his weel-foggit byke.
Lnl. 1881 H. Shanks Musings under the Beeches 323:
Oh, man! 'twill be a cauldrife byke For that fell sodger Maister Lousie.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 107:
Ye're ten times fules, an' ten times waur, To slave in sic a byke.

‡(2) (See first quot.) Given by Cai.7 1938 as obsol.Cai. 1771 T. Pennant Tour in Scot. 1769 157:
The corn is thrashed out, and preserved in the chaff in bykes, which are stacks in shape of bee-hives, thatched quite round, where it will keep good for two years.
Cai. 1932 Proc. Soc. Antiq. of Scot. (Jan.) 136–137:
A byke I measured . . . held about ten quarters of corn.

(3) “A heap of corn fresh from the flail and ready for ‘keerin'” (Cai.7 1938).

(4) A swarm or crowd of people (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Ags.1, Fif.10, Lnk.3 1938).Ags.(D) 1922 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden xv.:
Juist yesterday efternune there was a byke o' little bit taeds frae the Loan cam' into the shop.
Gsw. 1799 Caled. Mercury (16 Nov.):
If any woman were admitted among the company, he would skail the byke, (or in other words, dismiss the assembly).
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds iii.:
There was na a blither bike o' drowthy neibours in a' the shire.
Slk. 1822 Hogg Perils of Man III. 287:
Ye'll get the flower of a' the Chisholms, and the best bairn o' the bike.

(5) “Any hidden collection of small matters” (Nai. 1813 W. Leslie Gen. View Agric. Nai. and Mry., Gloss., beik); see also quot. Known to Cai.7 (obsol.), Bnff.2 1938.Twd. 1825 Jam.2:
A valuable collection of whatever kind, when acquired without labour or beyond expectation. Thus, when one has got a considerable sum of money, or other moveables, by the death of another, especially if this was not looked for, it is said; He has gotten, or fund, a gude bike.

II. v.

1. Of bees: to swarm (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.1 1938). Also fig. Vbl.n. byking, a crowd, a swarm.Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 358:
And bees first pair'd afore they byket, Or gather'd honey.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 97:
For 'tis weil kend by mony ae ane, The lads about me byket.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) VI. 95:
We haena cheer for oursels, let abe for a byking o' English lords an' squires!

2. To dwell.Hdg. 1905 J. Lumsden Edb. and Country Croonings 56–57:
A stranger bykes i' the fine farm he wraucht sae mony years.

3. To collect.Knr. [1886] “H. Haliburton” Horace in Homespun, etc. (1925) 180:
An' mony a groat — na! that's a bam'! The bawbees biket when they cam'.

[O.Sc. byke, bike, etc., n., earliest quot. c.1420, (1) a hive (of bees), a nest (of ants); (2) a dwelling or abode; (3) a swarm, esp. of persons; v., 1606, to close in as in a hive; of obscure origin (D.O.S.T.).]

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"Byke n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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