Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

DUNK, adj., n.1 Also †donk. [dʌŋk Sh.; døŋk Ork.]

1. adj. Damp (Rnf. 1825 Jam.2, dunk). Also dunky, -i, of weather: damp and misty (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), dunki), of clothes or crops: damp, moist (Ork. 1929 Marw., dunky). Also in Eng. dial. Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 52:
On auld worm-eaten skelf, in cellar dunk.
Dmf. 1823 J. Kennedy Poems 119:
My browst is brown, my yill is drunk, My barrel lies in cellar dunk.
w.Dmf. 1917 J. L. Waugh Cute McCheyne 32:
It brocht back to me a time lang, lang bygane, when I gaed through the darkest, dunkest bit o' Shinnel Glen as croose as a spunkie.

Hence donkish, rather damp (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2).

2. n. Also dunka, dunker.

(1) A mouldy dampness (Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B., obs.). Lnk. 1927 (per Lnk.11):
“Ye can aye get troot wi' a worm in the dunk o' the mornin'” — meaning the damp stuffiness of a dull summer morning.

¶(2) A mouldy, damp building. Lnk. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 75:
Beck to thy shadow! crazy doiltit dunk, I'd gar ae single frown ding out thy spunk.

(3) A dense mist, a fine drizzle (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., dunker; 1908 Jak. (1928), dunk(er); 1914 Angus Gl., dunker); a tabu word used by fishermen at sea of rain (Jak., dunka). Also in Lakel. dial. Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
A dunk ut o' de mist.

[O.Sc. has dunk, c.1536, variant of donk, damp, moist, from early 15th cent., n., moisture, a moist or wet place, from 1513, donky, dampish, 1513; Mid. and Mod.Eng. dank. Ulterior origin unknown. The I.Sc. words prob. come direct from the stem dunk- in Norw. dial. dunken, moist and heavy, sultry, close (of air).]

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

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



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: