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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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).]

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"Dunk adj., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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