Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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FLEG, v.1, n.1 Also flegg, fleeg (Cai.); †fleig, flaig; flig (Per. 1897 C. R. Dunning Folk-Lore 7). [Sc. flɛg, Cai. fli:g, Per. flɪg, Fif. + fləig]

I. v. 1. tr. To frighten, scare (I. and n.Sc., em.Sc.(a), Rxb. 1951); to put to flight. Ppl.adj fleggit; fleegid (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 151; Cai.3 1931). Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems 233:
No like a Deel, in Shape of Beast, With gaping Chafts to fleg us a'.
Inv. 1732 in J. Noble Misc. Inv. (1902) 153:
They fleg me with the tenor of a charge to Edinburgh.
Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 79:
Never have it understood You fleg mankind frae being good.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 66:
Some think his ghaist still haunts Glendevon, To fleig the wives wha gae to Methven.
Slk. 1844 W. Crozier Cottage Muse (1847) 48:
Wi' dribs o' milk and bags o' meal, To fleg aff hunger, ruthless chiel.
Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie vi.:
I'll wrastle frae my grave an' fleg ye oot o' the sma' wuts ye hae, my man.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xv.:
“That was strong language,” said Hendry, “but he would be wantin' to fleg her?'”
Ork. 1915 Old-Lore Misc. VIII. i. 44:
Whin da Pirate Gow's men breuk intae da hoose ae night an' flegged da wives sairly.
Fif. 1939 St Andrews Cit. (28 Jan.):
They canna' fleg the couthie folk that bide frae John-o-Groats Down to the Mull o' Galloway.

Hence flegger, one who, or that which frightens or deters. Rxb. 1851 Miss Douglas Auld Brig o' Slittrick's Last Address 18:
Even in the Tranties, wi' their beggars, The spoilers had found fearfu' fleggers. They'd cowed the bauldest o' the toon That lifted hand to pit me doon!

2. Of illness, stormy weather, etc.: to dispel, to cause to disappear (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc., Ags. 1951). Edb. 1773 R. Fergusson Poems (1925) 56:
To fleg frae a' your craigs the roup, Wi' reeking het and crieshy soup.
Fif. 1811 C. Gray Poems 39:
Guid cheer will fleg the frost awa'.
Rxb. 1815 J. Ruickbie Poems 237:
Stuff my wame wi' guid kail brose, To fleg the caul'.
Per. 1891 R. Ford Thistledown 178:
When man first fand the want o' claes, The wind an' cauld to fleg.
Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 16:
Haud on the peats an' fleg the cauld.

3. To beat, surpass. outdo. Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
That flegs a'!

4. intr. To take fright, to be scared (ne.Sc. 1951). Sc. 1750 A. Pennecuik Poems 66:
Now tell the Truth and dinna fleg, Was't wi' a Beau?
Abd. 1812 W. Lillie in W. Walker Bards of Bon-Accord 600:
Am I sic a bairn 's tae fleg at a ba'?
Inv. 1865 J. Horne Poems 123:
To men's harsh words let not an ear, For them ne'er fleg.

II. n. 1. A fright, a scare (Gen. exc. w. and sm. Sc.); ‡fear, terror. Hence flegsome, terrifying, awful. Cf. fleysome. s.v . Fley. Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 107:
Has some Bogle-bo Glowrin frae 'mang auld Waws gi'en ye a Fleg.
Sc. 1776 D. Herd Sc. Songs II. 152:
But I gat ne'er sae sair a fleg, Since I cam' frae my daddy.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xviii.:
I got a fleg, and was ready to jump out o' my skin.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tltes (1837) II. 322:
I have got such a yerk and such a fleg, I'll seek no more.
Abd. 1872 J. G. Michie Deeside Tales x.:
It wisna fleg; but I thocht I wisna muckle better than a murderer to snake upon a man that way.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 67:
Man, I never tell't it tae anither soul; — bit I got a awfu fleg.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 12:
She brak' the tether in a fleg An' clam upon a heugh.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle vi.:
We gied the English a fleg at the “Forty-five,” didnae we?
Sc. 1926 “H. McDiarmid” Drunk Man 63:
But there are flegsome deeps Whaur the soul o' Scotland sleeps.
Ags. 1950 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 47:
I suppose yon ill-gettit Sassenach sodger Monk gied you the biggest fleg o' a' your days.

2. Phrs.: (1) to get, gie, a fleg (one's flegs), to be scared, scare away; fig. of a large amount of anything, esp. of food or drink, snow, a pile of work: to diminish appreciably (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags. 1952). Cf. v., 2.; ‡(2) to gie (somebody) the flegs, to frighten (someone) off; †(3) to play (somebody) a fleg, to give (someone) a scare; (4) to tak fleg, to take fright (Ags. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1952). (1) Lnl. 1890 A. M. Bisset Spring Blossoms 80:
I'se warrant they hae got their flegs Sin Bob's awa'.
Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood vii.:
“The snaw's gotten a fleg,” said Geordie jubilantly.
(2) Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Sc. Songs 95:
Sing ye young sorrow to beguile Or to gie auld fear the flegs?
(3) Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 114:
My certy! quo' she, but I'll play him a fleg.
(4) Sc. 1820 A. Sutherland St Kathleen III. 191:
I ken weel eneugh what lassies like, an' winna tak fleg although ye sid dort for a hale ook.
Ags. 1875 J. Watson Verse Samples 51:
The habble-jocks took fleg an' ran.

[O.Sc. fle(i)g, to scare, from 1600. Presumably a variant of Fley, q.v. The orig. of the -g is obscure, phs. a development on analogy with lie: lig; fly: n.Eng. dial. flig; draw: drag; flaw: flag. It is of relatively late appearance and not likely to derive from an O.N. *fleyggja as N.E.D. implies. For a sim. development of a final guttural stop, cf. Elbuck, Warlock, Winnock, and in Eng. dial. Wright Eng. Dial. Grammar § 348.1.]

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"Fleg v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 Jan 2022 <>



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