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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

CLAFF, CLAFT, n.1 and v. [klɑf(t)]

1. n. †(1) “Cleft, or part of a tree where the branches separate” (Gall. 1825 Jam.2). Cf. Cloff, n., 1.Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 43:
There, in the claff O' branchy oak, far frae the tread o' man, The ring-dove has her nest.

(2) A term in curling: “a piece of iron with studs to be pressed into the ice for the purpose of making a stop or stay for the foot when delivering a stone” (Lnk. 1936 (per R. Macintyre); Lnk.11 1940).Lnk. 1864 J. B. Greenshields Annals of Lesmahagow, App. 52:
The besom, natch and claff Wi' gleesome hearts they toast and laugh.

(3) In phr. to tak' the claft, “to come between the two guards in curling” (Lnk. 1936 (per W. C. Cockburn); Lnk.11 1940).

2. v. (See quot.) Known to Lnk.11 1940.Lnk.4 1936:
A curling stone, on the tee, might be guarded by two stones a yard or so away — those stones lying side by side — and it would be necessary to “claff” or separate those stones to get at the winner.
s.Sc. 1899 Border Mag. (March) 51: 
Ye've dune the trick. Ye've claffed it. An empty hoose, fill'd wha can.

[From the same root as Eng. cleave, to split, cf. O.Sc. pa.t. claff (see D.O.S.T. s.v. cleve, v.1), which is irreg. and prob. formed on analogy with verbs like O.Sc. brek, brak.]

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"Claff n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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