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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CRACK, Krack, Krak, v. Sc. usages.

1. To strike sharply (Cai.7 1940; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 98, krack; Bnff.2, Abd.9 1940).Abd.2 1942:
As he steppit hame, he crackit aff the thristle heids wi' his ellwand.

2. To boast, brag (Abd.13 1912; Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.). Now obs. in St.Eng., though common in Eng. dial. Vbl.n. cracking.Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 199:
Keep out o' his company that cracks o' his cheatery.
Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Guidman o' Inglismill 42:
They happit aboot her like craws on a rig, A' fechtin', or fleechin', or crackin' fell big.
Edb. 1811 H. Macneill Bygane Times 26:
And brag o' Walth, and rising Lands, And endless Trade, and millions making, O' Gain; wi' ither bonnie cracking!

3. (1) intr. To chat, gossip, have a talk. Gen.Sc. Vbl.n. crackin.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 224:
Gae warm ye, and crack with our Dame, Till I set aff the Mill.
Cai. 1930 Caithness Forum in John o' Groat Jnl. (14 March):
Him an' me will lekly crack'wa' in wir ain wey till 'e end o' 'e chapter.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 121:
I canna think what they twa get to crack about.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 110:
An' beg frae you, as my reward, An hour o' crackin.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Cotter's Sat. Night viii.:
The Father cracks of horses, pleughs and kye.

†(2) tr. To talk, narrate.Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality x.:
D'ye think my kinswoman and me are gaun to lose our gude name wi' cracking clavers wi' the like o' you or your prisoner either?
Abd. 1841 J. Imlah Poems 39:
The host cracked away queer and auld farren stories.

4. With on: “to carry on, as in sailing” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl., krak; Sh., Ork., Cai., Bnff., Abd., Fif., Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s).Bnff.2 1942:
The gale was risin' fest, bit the skipper crackit on withoot slackin' the sheet an inch-muckle.

5. Phrases: (1) the cracking of the herrings, see quot. It is possible however that this is an attempt to explain cracken, Krekin; (2) to crack an egg, a term used in curling, = Phr. (3) s.v. Brak, v.; (3) to crack a spunk, — match, to strike a match (Cai.7, Bnff.2, Abd.2 ( — spunk), Kcb.9 1940); (4) to crack crouse, see Crouse, adj., 2. phr.; (5) to crack like a (pen-)gun, — — pea-guns, — twa hand guns, to talk in a lively manner, to chatter loudly (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Fif.10 1940); †(6) to crack looves (lufes), to shake hands, i.e. to seal a bargain; †(7) to crack one's credit, “to lose character and confidence in any respect” (Sc. 1808 Jam.); to become bankrupt, to lose one's reputation; obs. in Eng. since 17th cent. (N.E.D.); (8) to crack one's creed, see Creed; (9) to crack one's thoom(s), to snap the fingers (in glee). Also in Cum. dial.(1) Sc. 1803 A. Hunter Georgic. Essays II. 563:
When the herrings, after appearing in any arm of the sea in great numbers, and remaining there for some time, are about to leave it, as a preliminary to their departure a signal is given, which the people who speak of it denominate the cracking of the herrings. By this phrase they mean to denote, that a loud sound is heard, resembling the crack of a pistol when it is fired off, which generally takes place in the evening; and it is invariably the case, they say, that after such sound has been heard, the herrings will wholly disappear from that place.
(2) Sc. 1894–95 Royal Caled. Curling Club Ann. 103:
Then merrily we'll crack an egg, Sweep him up or leave him be.
(3) Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 27:
Crack a match for the cannle!
(5) Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xvii.:
And this mad quean after cracking like a pen-gun . . . behoves just to hae hadden her tongue.
Ags. 1846 A. Laing Wayside Flowers (1857) 89:
Cheerie kyth't the bodie, Crackit like a gun.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin vi.:
A' the lang forenicht he sat . . . crackin' like a pen-gun.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie's Wallet 216:
Cracking awa' like pea-guns.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 31:
Jockey and his mither came hame together, cheek for chow cracking like twa hand guns.
(6) Sc. 1824 Royal Visit in Royal Sc. Minstrelsy (ed. J. Burnet) 205:
We've crackit looves, we've plighted faith To be for ever true.
Ags. 1820 A. Balfour Poems 278:
They crackit looves, an' measured mou's.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 63:
He's got that penny for deil haet, ye might cracket lufes on't and been as well, if no better.
(7) Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick iii.:
As I tell't ye afore, the minister has crackit his credit wi' me sin' syne.
wm.Sc. [1835–37] Laird of Logan (1868) 172:
I'll try to hole out for ye . . . as muckle as will mak fifteen shillings in the pound; and, my certie! gin he takna that, you'll crack your credit for sense, mair than I hae done mine for want o' siller.
Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Poems 37:
My credit sair crackit, my brass nearly through.
(9) Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 177:
I leugh for glee, and crack'd my thoom', And flang my weel-pangt spleuchan till her.
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Heatherland 67:
It mak's them loup an' crack their thooms, The spunk o' Sandy's airms.

6. Combs.: (1) crack-nut, -net, “the fruit of the hazel, Corylus avellana” (Gall. 1898 E.D.D., -nut). Also found in Eng. (Ken. and Dev.) dial. (E.D.D.); †(2) crack-tryst, “one who does not fulfil an engagement to meet with another” (Sc. 1825 Jam.2).(1) Ags.(D) 1890 A. N. Simpson Muirside Memories vii.:
He referred, with a few jokes and gibes, to the time “when the Laird's father and himsel' played at the tottum for crack-nets.”
Ags. 1925 Forfar Dispatch (31 Dec.) 2/5:
A muckle pock o' cracknets was brocht oot.
(2) Sc. 1817 Carlyle Early Letters (Norton) I. 113:
Thou shalt be punished as a crack tryst and a breaker of promise.

[O.Sc. has crak(e), crack, from c.1420, to break, chiefly fig., to break (faith or credit), to talk loudly and boastfully, to talk, gossip (D.O.S.T.); O.E. cracian, to make a sharp sound.]

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"Crack v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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