Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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HEMPIE, n.1, adj. Also hempy; himpie (Sc. 1911 S.D.D. Add.; Kcb. 1919 T.S.D.C. III.). [′hɛmpi]

I. n. A rogue, a person deserving to be hanged, i.e. one destined for a hempen rope (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Kcb.4 1900). Usu. employed jocularly of a mischievous or unruly young person (Ib.; Inv., Fif. 1957), now gen. applied to a girl (Kcb.4 1900; Bnff., Bwk., Dmf., Rxb. 1957). Sc. 1718  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 80:
Till he had gather'd seven or aught Wild Hempies stout and strang.
Sc. 1772  Weekly Ma. (20 Aug.) 236:
See what sad hempies are lairds men.
Edb. 1801  H. Macneill Poems II. 51:
Now, as I've heard some hair-brain'd hempy Growl whan your chappin bottle's empty.
Sc. 1818  Scott Rob Roy xxxiv.:
She's under lawfu' authority now, and full time, for she was a daft hempie.
Ayr. 1826  Galt Lairds xxiii.:
Some Paisley hempies that cam doun to the fishing . . . have gotten themselves fou.
Sc. 1836  Wilson's Tales of the Borders III. 28:
“It's my opinion he's been on the road before, following anither trade,” said Janet. “I'm sair mistaen if he's no a hempie.”
Per. 1857  J. Stewart Sketches 36:
Limmers, an' cutties, an' hempies, an' draigles.
Kcb. 1893  Crockett Raiders xxii.:
Come awa' this instant, ye impident hempie!
Fif. 1895  S. Tytler Macdonald Lass ix.:
What for are you not in your crib, you little hempie, at this time of the night?
e.Lth. 1908  J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 255:
This hempy like an Empress ruled, By her we were baith tax'd an' schuled.

II. adj. Wild, romping, roguish (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Bwk. 1957); fit for the gallows. Deriv. hemping, “a romping person” (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein 68). Abd. 1739  Caled. Mag. (1788) 501:
Syne a' the drochlin hempy thrang, Gat o'er him wi' a fudder.
Slk. 1818  Hogg Wool-gatherer (1876) 68:
Ye impudent, hempy-looking tike that ye are.
Sc. 1824  Scott St Ronan's Well iii.:
How could she help twa daft hempie callants from taking a start and an owerloup?
Ayr. 1834  Galt Lit. Life III. 22:
A hempy packman callan mindet to list.
Sc. a.1894  Stevenson New Poems (1918) 114:
I ran, a little hempie lass, In the sand and the bent grass.
Gall. 1901  Trotter Gall. Gossip 153:
She made a poem, although she wusna verra daft, though maybe hempy a wee.

[Hemp + suff. -Ie. The n. usages may derive orig. from the adj., used with such words as rogue, etc. suppressed.]

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"Hempie n.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2019 <>



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