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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FYKE, v., n. Also fike, †fy(c)k, †feik; †feyke; feak, feck; fik (Sh.), fig (Ork.).

I. v. 1. (1) intr. To move about restlessly, to fidget, from discomfort, itch, excitement, etc. (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 163; Sh., ne.Sc., Fif., m.Lth., Kcb. 1953); to be restive, of a horse, to caper, prance. Also in n.Eng. dial. Ppl.adj. fykin, restless, fidgetty, active. Phr. fyking fain, restless with eagerness. Cf. Fidge.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) I. 100:
Now let her snirt and fyke her fill, For fint a crum of thee she faws.
Sc. 1727 P. Walker Remark. Passages 60:
An outer court where her Lady Maries were fyking and dancing. . . . I have often wondered thorow my Life, how any that ever knew what it was to bow a Knee in earnest to pray, durst crook a Hough to fyke and fling at Piper's and Fidler's springs.
Sc. a.1740 Tinclarian Dr Mitchel's Letter to King of France (Broadsheet):
A Fycking Meir should be well girded.
Ayr. 1786 Burns On a Sc. Bard iv.:
Some drowsy bummle, Wha can do nought but fyke an' fumble.
m.Lth. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 133:
Whar gang you to, ye fyking get! You're no like to be settled yet.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 5:
A' her burds about her, fyking fain, To scrape for mauks.
Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 173:
If ye touch Heg-beg [a nettle], Heg-beg will gar you fyke.
Abd. 1882 W. Forsyth Writings 7:
A little speerit fidg't and fikit Upo' the corner o' a pew.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 110:
Straucht on my hinderlands I fyke To find a rhyme t'ye.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 214:
His native bolts strack sure an' keen! And, gif impell'd by wrath or spleen, They garr'd folk fyke.
Dmf. 1921 J. L. Waugh Heroes 112:
I ripet the ribs wi' the poker I was fikin' to use on thae deevils o' Huns.
Cai. 1922 J. Horne Poems and Plays 28:
A fykin firie blinkin'.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 13:
Twae teuchats fikin' ower their nest Gaed skraichin' roon' as gif possest.

†(2) tr. To twitch, hitch, shrug.Abd. 1739 in Caled. Mag. (1788) 498:
Some baith their shoulders up did fyke.

‡(3) Fig.: to fret, to be anxious or troubled (m.Lth.1 1953). Vbl.n. fykin, worry, care; ppl.adj. fyket, fretty, cantankerous.Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 133:
How that a switch o' rowan-tree, Gars a' the de'ils and witches fyke.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahil Poems (1876) 124:
May every ill that gars us fyke . . . Be ten miles distant from my friend.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock xix.:
I'm no gain to fike ony mair at the inlats an' ootgings o' thae nasty, insignificant skraes.
Gall. c.1870 Bards of Gall (ed. Harper 1889) 227:
Believin' that, what need we then Just hae sae muckle fykin'.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 31:
I help't her up the nearest dyke. . . . An' baud her neither fear nor fyke.
Ayr. 1883 A. Aitken Lays 78:
Whan a' ither dugs wad grow crusty and fyket.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset 43:
I can't see what there is to fyke about.

2. (1) To exert oneself, work laboriously, to bother, take trouble or pains, intr. or with wi (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai., Abd., Ags., Fif., Slg. 1953). Vbl.n. fykin, bother, trouble.Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 379:
You feik it away, like old Wives baking.
Abd. 1794 W. Farquhar Poems 176:
O Sandy, troth ye're bat a fool, To feik awa' wi' a poor school.
Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 5:
An' after a' my fykin fail To mak a sang.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1813) 8:
The sorrow ane amon's wou'd fike Minch'd meat to make her.
Per. 1802 S. Kerr Poems 20:
Owre busy now, wi' you to fyke.
Ags. 1894 Brechin Advertiser (9 Jan.):
It will cost you fykin', I'm thinkin'.
em.Sc. 1926 H. Hendry Poems 104:
But he an ass is, Wha scorns to fyke wi' quirk exams.
Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 42:
Or what thrawn pliskie made Him gar Men fyke for floo'rs amon' the glaur.
Slk. 1985 Walter Elliot Clash-ma-clavers 3:
It's sed that lightenin disnae strike
The same place twice, sae Ah'll no fyke
At trying for anither time

(2) To bustle about in a trifling sort of way or over trifles, to fiddle, to make a fuss or pother about nothing very much (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., feck, 1908 Jak. (1928), fik, 1914 Angus Gl., feak; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai., Ags., Slg., m.Lth., wm.Sc., Slk. 1953); to be fastidious (Cai.9 1939). Ppl.adjs. fykin, fussy, finicky, fyket, crotchetty, cantankerous. Phr. to fig an' fø, “to be busy with trifling jobs” (Ork. 1929 Marw.).Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 85:
Gin we fike on till her ain fouks come here Ye'll see a' things intill a bony steer.
Lnk. c.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 134:
Fikle fyking bodies they ware, unko ill to please.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xliv.:
She wad rather lock up a hail ward than be fiking about thae niff-naffy gentles that gae sae muckle fash wi' their fancies.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 91:
Plagued sae with this fiking auld maid.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Wool-gatherer (1876) 78:
She'll be fiking up an' down the house, an' putting a' things to rights.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 133:
The mair he fummelt and he fykit, Fient haet a button would keep sticket.
Sc. 1879 I. Bird Rocky Mountains 288:
He had previously promised that he would not hurry or scold, but “fyking” had not been included in the arrangement, and . . . he “fyked” unreasonably about me, the mare, and the crossing generally.
Uls. 1892 Ballymena Obs. (E.D.D.):
A'm jest fikin at an' daen wee turns.
Bnff. 1924 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 342:
He had all the outdoor man's valid contempt for the fykin' futilities incidental to his new calling.

†(3) With wi: to dally with a woman, “not necessarily including the idea of indelicacy of conduct” (Abd. 1825 Jam.). Bch. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 58:
No to fike wi' yon wild hizzie, Janet's dochter i' the glen.

3. tr. To cause pain or bother to, vex, annoy, perplex.Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 5:
Ye may be sure this did me fyke.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
This will fike him, this will give him pain.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems I. 45:
They aft times mak my heart sae sair, Sae fyk'd an' flurried.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 103:
That mad ill-gainshon'd byke O' Test'ment men that doth us fyke.
Per. 1842 R. Nicoll Poems 225:
It snoozes on through rain and snaw, Nor fykes its noddle.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller ii.:
For me, I'm blythe to halt and swither Afore I fyke ye.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 192:
Cankert crap an' rackit banes, Noo begin tae fyke him.

II. n. 1. ‡(1) A restless movement, fidget, twitch (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 163; m.Lth.1 1953); a caper. Also in n.Eng. dial. Now gen. in pl. = the fidgets, a fit of restlessness (Ags. 1942: Cai. 1953). ¶Dim. fikie, in 1935 quot. of a restless ever-active creature, a “fidget.”Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 82:
Ye have gotten the fikes in your arse or a waft clew.
Edb. 1788 J. Macaulay Poems 129:
No ane gies e'er a fidge or fyke, Or yet a moan.
Slg. 1841 R. M. S. Harp of Strila 25:
Katie's in the fykes For she this day miss'd Johnnie.
Sc. 1857 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 61:
And the mair I think o' him with his wild and wonderful feiks and freits. . . .
Abd. 1895 W. Allan Sprays II. 79:
Deil tak' Mrs Grundy! She gies fouk the fykes.
Sc. 1935 W. Soutar Poems in Sc. 27:
Baith bird and beastie and the sma' Flitterin' fikies o' the air.

†(2) Restlessness (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a state or mood of uneasiness (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., feck), stress or hurry. Ayr. 1789 J. Fisher Poems 102:
Then stay a wee An' dinna be in any fyke, But listen me.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tibby Johnston's Wraith (1874) 186:
Tak just a wee time, Wat, an' dinna be in sic a fike.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders xxxii.:
Aye mem; dinna be in a fyke, mem! Canna ye bide a wee?

2. (1) A fuss, bustle, commotion, excitement, pother (Ags., Slg., Fif. 1953). Deriv. †feikmaleeries, fussy ceremonies, empty ritual. The form is a conflation of Fyke and Whigmaleerie.Sc. 1719 in Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 121:
O sic a Fike and sic a Fistle I had about it!
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 35:
The oddest fike an' fisle that e'er was seen.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 193–4:
As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke, When plundering herds assail their byke.
Rxb. 1805 A. Scott Poems 50:
We British frogs, May bless Great Britain and her bogs, Where hap we thus in cheerie fyke.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 36:
Till Kate wauked, wi' an unco fike, Cries “What's ado! the dog's gane gyte!”
Dmf. 1821 H. Duncan Young S. Country Weaver 28:
The gewgaws, and the feikmaleeries o' the Pope o' Rome.
Dmf. 1826 H. Duncan W. Douglas I. xvi.:
A gran' man, wi' a deal o' fallals and feikmaleeries about him.
Abd. 1851 W. Anderson Rhymes 196:
Meg cared nae a flee for their anger an' fyke.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
There was a sair fyke in the beginning, but the governor . . . gied him his dischairge.
Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 64:
There's muckle fyke in oor toun-en' — The gossips' tongues are gaun like treadles.
ne.Sc. 1928 J. Wilson Hamespun 9:
As nicht is keener gettin', Its angry fyke I'll soon forget.

Phrs.: to hae (haud, mak) a fyke (fykes), to hold or make a fuss (Abd. after 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 203; Kcb. 1950). Gen. with wi, about. See also (3) below.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 37:
A lass about him made a wond'rous fike.
Sc. 1777 Weekly Mag. (1 May) 201:
They ha'na that politeness that the town gentles mak sic a fyke about.
Per. 1821 T. Atkinson Three Nights 18:
Come awa' and mak' nae mair fikes, man!
Ayr. 1848 J. Ramsay Woodnotes 190:
Wha needs wi' morals mak' a fyke, That “soun' is in the faith.”
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws ix.:
There's nae need to make such a fike, mistress.
em.Sc. 1913 J. Black Gloamin' Glints 53:
But as the sun was shinin' bricht I made nae fret nor fyke.

†(2) A fit of temper, a dudgeon. Ayr. 1834 Galt Lit. Life III. 36:
The bell whamlet, which it sometimes did when he was in a fyke, and pulled with the birr of carnality.
Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 43:
Dinna ye look sae disdainfu' Tae gar folk think ye're in a fyke.

†(3) Amorous dalliance, a flirtation.Abd. 1787 A. Shirrefs Jamie and Bess iii. ii.:
She then, wi' Geordy, held an unco' fyke.
Mry. 1810 J. Cock Simple Strains 144:
Twa towmons or he ga'ed awa' They had a fyk together: Ye ken fu' well baith ane an' a', He made the lass a mither.
Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. xviii.:
Mair nor three towmants sin he bagude to had a fyke wi' our Eppie.
Sc. 1929 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 198:
Kirkyaird Geordie's muckle rid cock A-raxin' his wing for a fyke.

3. (1) Trouble, bother, worry; petty cares; something annoying or vexatious (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 216). Phr. to breed fyke (Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems 26; Abd. 1873 P. Buchan Inglismill 30).Sc. c.1790 in A. W. C. Lindsay Lives (1849) II. 322:
Your mother's cold was another of my fykes.
Sc. 1827 Scott Surgeon's Daughter ii.:
Have I been taking a' this fyke about a Jew?
s.Sc. 1847 H. S. Riddell Poems 21:
There's fears for them that's far awa', And fykes for them are flitting.
wm.Sc. 1854 Laird of Logan 298:
The Fashes, Fykes, and Downdraughts o' Office.
Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes lxxx.:
There's no sayin' what you women-fowk will not tak' a pleesur in bearin'; . . . And, faith, mine will endure to be loadent wi' ither fowk's fikes.
Sc. 1875 A. Hislop Anecdotes 129:
Here lie the banes of Thomas Tyre, Who lang had drudg'd through dub and mire, In carrying bundles and sik lyke, His task performing with small fyke.
em.Sc. (a) 1896 “I. Maclaren” Kate Carnegie 353:
Gin he wants a nurse she'll hae tae be brocht frae Muirtown Infirmary, for a've eneuch withoot ony fyke o' that kind.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 128:
Lat's wale the canny duties, Slippin the fyke.
Abd. 1925 R. L. Cassie Gangrel Muse 56:
Great an' sma' she sairs alike, Rich or peer gie her nae fyke.
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 33:
But war upset oor plans, wi' a' its fykes.

‡(2) A fussy or intricate, gen. rather trivial, piece of work (Sc. 1825 Jam.); something in a ravelled or confused state; a trifle.Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxvii.:
A warld o' preliminary fykes maun be attended to.
Ags. 1884 Arbroath Guide (6 July):
Gin I seek ony bit fyke dune it's aye “wait, wait”.
e.Lth. 1885 J. Lumsden Rural Rhymes 13:
Some fyke was wrang — we boud to gang — And hence we shift to mend it!
Fif. 1939 St Andrews Citizen (28 Jan.):
The casts o' line I [fishing-rod] sent were braw, Nae kinks or twirls I'd hae ava, Nor ony fyke.

4. A whim, caprice, odd fancy, a fussy fad, a crotchet (Sh. 1866 Edm., feak, 1908 Jak. (1928), fik; Slg., Fif., m.Lth. 1953).Sc. c.1728 Ramsay Poems (1877) I. 261:
A Briton free thinks as he likes, And as his fancy takes the fykes, May preach or print his notions.
m.Lth. 1786 G. Robertson Har'st Rig (1801) ciii.:
But they might as weel sing a sang With a' their fikes.
Sc. 1808 E. Hamilton Glenburnie ix.:
To be plain wi' you, cusine, I think you hae owre mony fykes.
Sc. 1865 J. W. Carlyle Letters (ed. Froude 1883) III. 292:
She is a capital servant, that Jessie; and pleases Mr Carlyle supremely, attending to all his little “fykes and manœuvres.”
Lth. 1878 M. Oliphant Primrose Path vi.:
You have as many fykes as a fine leddy.
Fif. 1899 “S. Tytler” Miss Nanse ix.:
What with their glumshes, their fikes and their cankered tempers, your troubles and Mattie's aren't to be found in one day.
s.Sc. 1952 Sc. Home and Country (Sept.) XXVIII. 270:
A wee shilpit-lookin mannie that spoke sic hie English I couldna understan the hauf he said. An fou o' fykes!

5. A fussy, fastidious person, often of a child difficult to please with food, one who makes a great to-do over trifles (e. and wm.Sc., s.Sc. 1953).Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 160:
Bacons and Newtons? — “fykes and fidgets,” Whase “Philosophies” were “blethers!”
Lth. 1916 J. Fergus The Sodger 15:
Guid kens, I'm no' a fyke.
Edb. 1993:
He's a right fyke when it comes tae eatin vegetables.

6. The basket fish, “Medusa cruciata” (Abd. 1815 J. Arbuthnot Fishes 28, 57), prob. because of the itching sensation produced by touching it. For comb. sea-fyke, see Sea, Combs. 35.

7. Burnt leather (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.).

[O.Sc. fyke, to fidget, c.1500, to trouble, 1572, O.N. fíkjast, to be eager or restless. The n. meanings develop from the v. O.Sc. has fyke, pruritus, a.1585. The forms feak, feck may be variants of Eng. dial. feak, to twitch, jerk, fidget, prob. orig. from the same source, but cf. also Feck, n.2 For fig, cf. Dan. fige, to hurry, Norw. dial. fika, to be restless. n., 7. is prob. a different word of unknown origin.]

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"Fyke v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Apr 2024 <>



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