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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.

CHEEP, Cheip, v.1 and n. Sc. usages. [tʃip]

I. v.

1. To speak softly, whisper; to make a plaintive sound (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1939). Also found in n.Eng. dial. (E.D.D.).Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 223:
May birds are aye cheeping. This refers to the popular superstition against marrying in the month of May, the children of which marriages are said to “die of decay.”
Sc.(E) 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws of the Marches iv.:
Gavin, I'll just cheip a word in your lug.

Ppl.adj. cheeping, complaining, querulous. Ags. 1729 A. Jervise Memorials (1885) I. 80:
She is a very cheeping woman and can do better than she lets on.

Phrase: cheep sma', to adopt a humble manner; cf. colloq. Eng. sing small.Ags. 1893 “F. Mackenzie” Cruisie Sketches viii.:
He'll cheep sma' when he sees her, I'm thinkin'.

2. To squeak, creak (of boots, doors, etc.).Cai.7 1939:
E piston wis cheepan for want o ile.
Abd.9 1939:
I have heard the term “cheepin' beets” applied to boots which made a squeaking noise.
Ags. 1891 J. M. Barrie Little Minister xxx.:
He . . . staggered to the vestry with his mouth open. His boots cheeped all the way, but no one looked up. .
m.Sc. a.1846 A. Rodger Poems (1897) 65:
And the wind made the doors a' to rattle and cheep.

Hence cheeper, a light tight-fitting shoe, a dancing-pump. Knr. 1905 H. Haliburton Excursions 240:
Tap-knots, snoods, an' dancin' cheepers.

II. n.

1. A whisper, hint, word; gen. used with neg. Gen.Sc. (except I.Sc.). Also found in Eng. (Lan.) dial. (E.D.D.).Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 29:
Ye'll be gyaun tae a pairty, nae doot; it's michty queer fu A hivna h'ard cheep o't.
Ags. 1823 A. Balfour Foundling of Glenthorn II. iii.:
I wadna said a cheep about it, had it no been that baith o' you appeared so very ignorant concerning their outfa's.
em.Sc. (b) 1929 “Restalrig” in Scotch Readings, etc. (ed. T. W. Paterson) 109:
His talk never got ayont beasts. . . . Never a cheep aboot love affairs.

Phrases: (1) to keep a quiet cheep, to be silent (Abd.2, Abd.9 1939); (2) to play (say) cheep, to make a sound, speak (Fif.10 1939, play — ).(1) em.Sc. (a) 1894 “I. Maclaren” Bonnie Brier Bush 179:
Yon man 'ill keep a quiet cheep.
(2) Cai.7 1939:
If ye say cheep, I'll sort ye.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems (2nd ed.) 2:
He's ne'er played cheep, that I hae heard synsyne.
Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 27:
While he, poor sumph! boot silence keep, An' durst na for his lugs play cheep.

2. A creak, squeak.Ayr. 1786 Burns Ordination (Cent. ed.) vii.:
Come, screw the pegs wi' tunefu' cheep.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xxii.:
The spence door gied a bit cheep as gin the cat were coming ben.

3. A light kiss (Lnk.3, Kcb.10 1939; Bnff., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s). Also cheeper (Edb.1, Slg.3 (for Lnk.) 1939).Sc. 1995 Daily Record 10 Mar 26:
Gordon Smith just couldn't wait to pucker up to girlfriend Yvonne McKendrick and give her a wee cheeper.
Just as soon as he found out what it was! The Cardross couple had never heard of the Scots term for a kiss on the cheek.
m.Sc. 2003 Daily Record 8 Mar 19:
Right son, now give yer Auntie Senga a wee cheeper before yer aff tae the trainin'.
Lnl. 1890 A. M. Bisset Spring Blossom 23:
Like you I ne'er could see't amiss Tae steal a cheeper.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 178:
He'll gaur your mou' smack with sae couthie a cheep.
Gsw. 1992 Jeff Torrington Swing Hammer Swing! (1993) 132:
Before we parted ... Becky'd gone up on the toes of her fashion boots and laid a cheeper on my lips.
Gsw. 1997 Herald 28 Apr 2:
While the English fans were fighting the Swedish polis, the Scots were kissing them. The women polis that is. One of the enduring images is of a Scot delivering a cheeper unto a delicious, comely (fill in your own adjectives) Gothenburg lady constable.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xii.:
“Oh, Bell, Bell,” she said, “is this a day for your daffin?” “Hoot, awa' wi' ye, Mistress May. It's no ilka day Bell MacTurk gets the chance o' a bit cheep frae a laird!”

[Of imitative origin. O.Sc. has chepe, cheip, to chirp; to utter a feeble sound; fig. to murmur, from c.1500 (D.O.S.T.); but the noun is not recorded.]

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"Cheep v.1, n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 9 Dec 2023 <>



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