Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
About this entry:
First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
FLAFF, v., n. Also flaf, flauf(f): floff (Uls.), ¶flowff. [n.Sc. flɑf, m.Sc. flǫf]
I. v. 1. intr. To flap, flutter: to wave; to palpitate. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 64:
Their duds in targets flaff upo' their back.Ayr. 1787 Burns Addr. Beelzebub 45–47:
An' if the wives an' dirty brats . . . Flaffin wi' duds an' grey wi' beas.Ags. 1815 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 204:
The watchfu' mate [lapwing] flaff'd i' the gale Wi' eerie screech and plaintive wail.Bwk. 1862 J. G. Smith Old Churchyard 51:
She was a sair forfochten beastie, Wi' lang lean snout and flaffin' breastie.Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 27:
There noo, the ill bird's flaffin' on the very riggin' stane.Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 15:
Eis baird, wheite as the drieen snaw, flaffin i the wund.Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 37:
I mean the richt
wi the fairmer's filshens
flafft i the wun ...
Hence (1) flaffer, that which flaps or flutters: (a) a bird's wing. Rare; †(b) a young duck before its quill-feathers have grown. Cf. Eng. dial. flapper, id; (c) a pound note (Slk.1 1929; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1951); (2) ppl.adj. flaffing, flighty, frivolous; (3) vbl.n. flaffin(g), (a) fluttering, palpitation (Sh.10, Bnff.2, Fif.10 1945); (b) “a flake of whatever kind, any very light body” (Fif. 1825 Jam.), fluff; a snowflake (Fif.17 1951); a thin fall of snow (Per. 1950).(1) (a) Abd. 1871 J. Milne Songs 110:
The birds had their flaffers, the ships had their sails.(b) Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. Farm II. 718:
In this state wild ducklings, under the name of flaffers, make good sport.(c) Slg. 1862 D. Taylor Poems 42:
Just seven flaffers i' the year.Lnk. 1883 A. R. Fisher Poems 94:
'Twas said Tam had flaffers to spare.Gsw. 1904 “H. Foulis” Erchie xxii.:
He . . . put his hand in his pooch to feel his money. “Mind I have only the three flaffers and a half, Erchie,” says he.(2) Dmf. 1834 Carlyle Letters (ed. Norton) II. 245:
I hope she will be a small acquisition to Jane, who has little sympathy with the flaffing ways of the Cockney women.(3) (a) Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xii.:
A severe shaking of the knees and a flaffing at the heart.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ix.:
When the flaffins come ower my heart, I'm sometimes like to despair o' seein' through this winter.(b) Fif. 1825 Jam. MS. Poem:
O! War but you, and a' your brood Set skimmin' in a broken boat, An' twenty miles to row, Whar flaffins sma' wad dreichly float.Fif. 1916 G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 39:
Some flaffins o' snaw jist noos an' nans fa'in.
2. Of light: to flicker, gleam intermittently.Fif. 1841 C. Gray Lays 194:
Her merry dancers, shifting, streaming From pole to zenith — flaffing, gleaming.Kcb. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 38:
Just as that licht gaed flauffin' by.
3. Of the wind: to blow in gusts (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Ags., Fif. 1950). Vbl.n. flaffin, a gust. Also fig.Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 6:
Lat hail or drift on lums, or winnocks flaff.Bch. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 40:
An' syne fan he [the wind] wad oxter you, An' flaf, an' howl, an' rair.Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 123:
He'll fling ye a flaffin o' speeches galore.
4. Of gunpowder: to go off with a puff, to explode. Sometimes with aff. Also tr. to fire powder (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Fif. 1823 W. Tennant Card. Beaton 28:
The Bishops and their gang, that stood glowrin', and gapin', and gawfin', as the powther flaffed aff.
5. tr. To cause to flap or flutter (Gen.Sc.); to fan (a flame or fire) (Uls. c.1920 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 74; Fif. 1951). Also fig. With out, to beat out, extinguish (a flame).Dmf. 1808 J. Mayne Siller Gun 55:
And Love in youthfu' breasts was flaffing A mutual flame.Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 5:
Thou . . . flaff't thy wings, and in a crack Flew frae th' unsicker stance!Ayr. 1882 J. Hyslop Dream of a Masque 127:
Till auld Time's wing flaff'd out the flame.Lnk. 1887 A. Wardrop Mid-Cauther Fair 124:
[The lintie] still flaffs his wings, an' loups an' sings.Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 16:
Syne flaff't the aul' smiddy richt up in a lowe.
II. n. 1. A flapping or fluttering movement (Gen.Sc.); a light blow with something flat, a flick (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 47; Bnff.2, Abd.9 1942); a slap, a slam.Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 277:
The snaw was getting dour at them, and giein them sair flaffs and dads on their faces.Sc. 1844 in Sc. Songs (ed. Whitelaw) 403:
The craw put up his sooty head, And gied a flaf wi' his rousty wings.Sc. 1846 J. Grant Romance of War I. xiv.:
The howlet gied me a flaff wi' its wing.Edb. c.1875 J. Smith Hum. Sc. Stories 10:
She made the bowster spin owre my head wi' a flaff that made me stagger.Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 43:
He took me a flowff i' the haffet with his loof.Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog-Myrtle 202:
Taking the door after her as far as it would go with a flaff.
2. A gust or puff (of wind). Gen.Sc. Also fig. a brief moment, an instant.Slg. 1805 W. Towers Poems 54:
Then I felt a flaf o' wind, It smote me on the face.Bwk. 1827 R. Chambers Picture of Scotland I. 60:
A flaff of darkness, as he described it, came across him, and for a moment obscured his vision.Sc. 1834 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) IV. 63:
Thinkna ye, gin if I ever, for a flaff, . . . forgot my ain cosy bield.Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales of the Glens 64:
It was only the skirl o' the wind, man — a flaff o' the blast amang the auld trees i' the crook o' the water.Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxvi.:
Lochnaw may scart his fit, his act is but a flaf o' wind.Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 165:
Five years hae gane, aye, every flaff o't.Arg. 1912 N. Munro Ayrshire Idylls (1935) 273:
A little flaff of purging wind came out of the west and a few small drops of rain.
3. Fig.: Something light, fluffy, unsubstantial. Also applied to persons, a fop, a vain empty-headed person (Cld. 1825 Jam.).Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 20:
Nor see the self-important flaff Wi' “yes, auld Watty's fa'in aff.”Gsw. 1904 “H. Foulis” Erchie iii.:
I ken their dinners . . . a game croquette that's jist a flaff o' windy paste.
4. A flash (of lightning) (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., lichenin flaff).Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. iv.:
He's like a flaff of fire with thunder at the back on't.Per. 1881 R. Ford Sc. Readings 43:
Afore I had time to speak again she was round the corner like a flaff o' lichtnin'.
5. Used adv. = with a sudden fluttering movement (Bnff.2, Abd.2 1942).Ayr. a.1878 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 325:
Whan, huff! aff she's flying, Flaff, like a flee.
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"Flaff v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Jun 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/flaff>