Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

CLACK, n.1 and v. Cf. Claik, n.1, v.1, and Cleck. [klɑk]

I. n.

1. “The clapper of a mill” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Known to Ags.17 1940. Obs. in Eng. since early 18th cent. (N.E.D.). Rnf. 1861 J. Barr Poems 147:
Her tongue it will never lie still . . . And gangs like the clack o' a mill.

2. “Slanderous or impertinent discourse” (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems, Gl.); gossip, senseless chatter; language (used contemptuously). Known to Ags.17, Fif.1 1940. Also found in colloq. Eng. (Un. Eng. Dict.). Sc. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables frae the French 18:
It's figurative language I hae used To shaw hoo ye misca'd me wi' yer clack.
Ags. 1815 W. Gardiner Poems and Songs 46:
But my horn I'll gie him corn, For a' his cursed clack.
Edb.1 1940:
Stop yer clack!
Hdg. 1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 93:
But, sad mishanter! now thae days are gane, Whan Scotian callants kent nae leid but ane; . . . Wad never lout newfangled clack to hear: Then could her sangsters loud their steven raise.

II. v.

1. To gossip (Fif.1, Lnk.11 (for Rxb.) 1940). Vbl.n. clacking. Abd. 1931 J. H. Hall Holy Man 48:
You're the biggest gossip in Ardnacraig and ought to have picked up some wisdom with all your clacking.

2. To hatch. Found only as vbl.n. clackin, clackan, a brood (Mry.1 1925, clackin); also used in a derogatory sense of human beings = a great number. Cf. Cleckin(g), 3. Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 26:
Hae a regular succession o' clackins frae about the middle o' March till the end o' August, and never devour aff a haill clackin at ance.
Tyr. 1928 “M. Mulcaghey” Ballymulcaghey (1929) 77:
William dear, do you mind the clackan of sarvants that they used to have in the oul' Curnel's time?

[Prob. echoic; cf. O.Sc. clak, n., a sharp shock or impact, v., to make a clapping noise (D.O.S.T.). Cf. also Fr. claque(r), clap, Du. klak(ken), crack.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Clack n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 14 Apr 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: