Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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CORKIR, KORKIR, Korkier, Corkie, Korki(e), Kurki(e), n.

1. The lichen, Lecanora tartarea, formerly much used for dyeing. In Sh. called korkie (1866 Edm. Gl.), korki (1908 Jak. (1928), obs.), and kurki (1914 Angus Gl.). The form korkier is given by B. and H. 293 for the Highlands. Appar. applied loosely to any lichen used for dyeing red. Ork. 1806  P. Neill Tour through . . . Ork. and Sh. 50:
Corkir, or, as it is now called, cudbear (L. tartareus, mixed with L. calcareus), is gathered in harvest.
Mry. 1775  L. Shaw Hist. Prov. Moray 156:
With a red moss growing on stones, and called Korkir, they dye Red.
w.Sc. 1703  M. Martin Descr. Western Islands 135:
The Stones on which the Scurf call'd Corkir grows, are to be had in many Places on the Coast and in the hills. . . . Corkir is white, and thinner than any other [variety] that resembles it.

2. A red or purple colour (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Sh.(D) 1898  “Junda” Echoes from Klingrahool 6:
Hits [the daisy's] tippet o kurkie an shaela [hoar frost] combined.

3. Comb.: corklit, corcolet, korkalit, korkalett, kurkalit, corkie-lit, (1) = 1, above (Sh. 1886 B. and H. 293, korkalett); (2) a red or purple dye produeed from this lichen (Sh. 1825 Jam.2, corcolet; 1866 Edm. Gl.' corkie-lit). (1) Gall. 1876  M. McL. Harper Rambles in Gall. 151:
In old times the rocks and cliffs of Buchan [near Castle-Douglas] were famous for a kind of moss known as “corklit,” used for dyeing, the gathering of which formed a livelihood for the peasantry. At one time it was much used for dyeing soldier's [sic] coats.
Gall.(D) 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 309:
Than we gether't corklit an staneraw, an aik bark.
Kcb. 1692  A. Symson Large Descr. of Gall. (1823) 78–79:
In the parish of Monygaffe there is ane excrescence [fungus] which is gotten off the Craigs there . . .; this they call cork-lit, and make use thereof for litting or dying a kind of purple colour.
(2) Sh.(D) 1899  J. Spence Sh. Folk-Lore 180–181:
The grown-up females of the household are busily engaged preparing wool for the loom, which is to be made into underclothing for the family, or dyed with blue-lit, old man skrottie, korkalit or yellowin' girs, as suiting to the goodman of the house or dresses for the females. [Also spelt kurkatit, p. 181.]
Kcb. 1899  A. Clark Kennedy in Gallovidian I. iv. 144:
The barking o' the fox Starts the scared wether's hoofs that scale The corklit frae the rocks.

[Gael. and O.I. corcur, crimson, Lat. purpura, id. The Sh. forms in -ie have come through Norw. korke, Lichen tartareus, which is also from O.I. (Falk and Torp). The compound form corklit is presumably based on the abbreviated obs. Eng. form cork. For second element of compound, see Lit.]

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"Corkir n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2019 <>



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