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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CRACK, Krak, n.1 Sc. usages.

1. A moment, short space of time; gen. in phr. within a crack, in — —, immediately, in the twinkling of an eye, the latter form being in gen. colloq. use in Eng. and Sc. Gen.Sc. Cf. Quack, n.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act I. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
I trow, when that she saw, within a Crack, She came with a right thievless Errand back.
Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.:
I'll be wi' dee in a krak.
Per. 1933 W. Soutar Seeds in the Wind 38:
I stude like ane that has nae pou'r An' yet, within a crack, My hauns were on the unicorn.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems and Songs 219:
The Scots they brake and ran away, All in a crack.
Uls.2 1929:
Wait here for me and I'll not be a crack.

2. A “shot,” as at a game, etc. (Bnff.2 Abd.2, Fif.10, Slg.3, Lnk.3, Kcb.9 1940).Ags. 1873 Kirriemuir Observer (7 Feb.) 1/3:
Gotten some ice agen, an' ha'en a crack at the curlin'.

3. (1) The sudden onset of a storm; (2) “a sudden outburst of the wind” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).(1) Sh. 1928 T. M. M. Shewan in Manson's Shet. Almanac 186:
Da Greenland whalers wis jöst come hame a week or twa afore da crack cam.
(2) Bnff.2 1942:
Jist as we cam' roon the pint, a crack o' ween took the sail aback an' laid the boat on her beam-end.

4. Boastful talk, brag (Abd.13 1912). Gen. in pl. Arch. or dial. now in Eng. (N.E.D.).Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley (1817) xxx.:
D'ye hear wha's coming to cow yere cracks?
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings 8:
I ga'e mysel' the glim, for a' my cracks.

5. (1) Talk, gossip, free and easy conversation. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1998 Press and Journal 5 Oct 3:
One reads: "To Davey, lots of love, we will all miss your crack and will never forget you."
Sh.(D) 1898 “Junda” Echoes from Klingrahool 31:
Whan boys an lasses aa nicht lang Keeps up da crack an merry sang.
Sth. 1996 Essie Stewart in Timothy Neat The Summer Walkers: Travelling People and Pearl-Fishers in the Highlands of Scotland 17:
The Williamsons weren't big drinkers but we had good crack around their stove in the big galley, then we all went off to bed.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Guidman o' Inglismill 38:
An' syne the crack gaed on — wha bocht o'er dear; What “Aikie Brae” gat for his muckle steer.
m.Sc. 1982 Douglas MacLagan in Hamish Brown Poems of the Scottish Hills 158:
O' cam' ye here to hear a lilt,
Or ha'e a crack wi' me, man.
m.Sc. 1987 Andrew Cowan in Iain Crichton Smith Scottish Short Stories 1987 102:
'So what's the crack then, Bernie!' he shouted.
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 58:
Well fuck yer sangs an' fuck yer crack,
Thir nae bliddy guid, thir jist the slack
Tae damp doon the dander o' folk oan the rack.
Per. 1801 John Ramsay of Ochtertyre Letters (1966) 57:
...finding him solus had a very interesting crack,...
Slg. 1929 W. D. Cocker in Sc. Readings, etc. (ed. T. W. Paterson) 2:
Your faither an' me were haein' a bit crack aboot ye last nicht, Lizzie.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 1:
To the stiff sturdy aik they lean'd their backs, While honest Sandie thus began the cracks.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair xxvi.:
They're a' in famous tune For crack that day.
sm.Sc. 1979 Alan Temperley Tales of Galloway (1986) 253:
"Eh, Lucky," the shoemaker called down the chimney, "it'll be grand on your sowens the night. If I'm passing this way maybe I'll drop in for a crack and you'll gi'e me a dish."
Uls. 2002 Belfast News Letter 6 Apr 24:
Sez I sit doon ye boy ye, an let is share yer crack.

(2) A story, an entertaining or scandalous tale (Kcb.10 1940). Often in pl.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 5:
All cracks may not be trowed.
Bwk. 1893 Minstrelsy of the Merse (ed. Crockett) 235:
His funny cracks will mak' for weeks The tears rin down your bonnie cheeks.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Ep. to J. Rankine ii.:
Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants.
Uls.2 1929:
That's the best crack I've heard for a long time.

(3) Phrases: (a) to ca' the crack, see Ca', v.1, IV. 23; (b) to get on the crack, to start a conversation; Gen.Sc.; (c) to gie one's crack(s), to give the news, retail gossip; Gen.Sc.; (d) to haud the crack, see Haud, v.; †(e) to turn the crack, to change the subject.(b) m.Sc. 1925 J. L. Waugh in Cadger's Creel 78:
At once we got on the crack, and after a few preliminary feelers I asked him if he was a native of these parts.
Fif.10 1942:
There was nae pride aboot the auld laird; he would get on the crack wi' onybody he met.
(c) Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act II. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
Good-morrow, Nibour Symon — come sit down, And gie's your Cracks. — What's a' the News in Town?
Sc. 1994 Herald 29 Jan 24:
This is the season for the nineteenth-century novel read at the hearth in leisurely fashion, but it is also the season for crack: not the terrifying drug, but the art of lively conversation, preferably over a pint or two. It's a good word that is found in Irish, Gaelic, and Scots: gie's your crack, my mother used to say.
Sc. 1999 Daily Mail 2 Nov 13:
Returning to Edinburgh with an upper-crust English accent, he found it impossible to fit in. One day he was sitting in a club with his father, when one of his father's friends declared: 'Ye're awfy quiet give us yer crack'.
Mry.(D) 1824 J. Cock Hamespun Lays 114:
I'm blythe to see you, come awa' An' gie's your cracks an hour or twa.
Ags. 1990s:
Gie's yer crack: give me all your news.
Edb. 2004:
Ah've no seen you for years, 'mon tae the pub an ye can gie's yer crack.
Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 172:
“Come in, if your feet's clean,” he would cry to a neighbour looking in at the door; “sit ye doon, an' gie's your crack-”
(e) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 104:
Whyles, to turn the crack, I would wyse her on to speak of the ploys of her ain young days.

6. An entertaining talker, a gossip.Sc. 1827 Scott Letters (1894) I. 349:
Pitfoddels called. A bauld crack that auld papist body, and well informed.
Abd. 1922 J. Lawrence in Bnffsh. Jnl. (14 Nov.) 2:
He was a “crack,” at once entertaining and helpful.
Lnk. 1862 D. Wingate Poems 58:
An endless “crack,” a mighty smoker, And wi' nae rival as a joker.
Rxb. 1923 Kelso Chron. (5 Jan.) 4/3:
The conversation now began to flow in an easier style, Sandy being a great acquisition — in fact, a “grand crack.”
Uls. Saying (per Uls.2 1929):
You're good crack where you stay all night.

7. Phrs.: (1) in the crack of a hen's thoom, in a trice; (2) to play crack, to split, break, give way (cf. to play buff, s.v. Buff, n.2, a blow).(1) Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe 39:
Joost you twa hing on by the boat . . . and we'll be back for ye in the crack of a hen's thoom.
(2) Fif.10 1940:
A maid speaking of a broken cup said: “it jist played crack in my hands.”
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) viii.:
May the velveteens play crack and cast the steeks at every step he takes!

[O.Sc. has crak(e), crack, a sudden sharp or loud noise as of something breaking, 1375; a loud boast, brag, early 16th cent.; a talk or gossip, 1570 (D.O.S.T.). Crack appears in Mid.Eng. in Cursor Mundi, a.1300, but the noun does not occur in O.E. (N.E.D.).]

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"Crack n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2022 <>



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