Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

JAG, n.1, v.1 Also jagg. [dʒɑg]

I. n. 1. A prickle, a thorn; something which causes a sting. Gen.Sc. Also fig. Per. c.1800  Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 248:
Then flourish, thistle, flourish fair, . . . Your jags grow aye the stranger.
Bch. 1804  W. Tarras Poems 26:
Ne'er thinkin't [cauld] ony jag or pingle.
Fif. 1827  W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 73:
Jag-arm'd nettles soon, I trow, The passer-by shall sting.
Per. 1883  R. Cleland Inchbracken 209:
Mustard had gotten a lang jag in's forepaw.

2. A prick with a sharp instrument or thorn, a sharp blow, a prod (Sc. 1825 Jam., jag(g); Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Borders 1909 Colville 174). Gen.Sc. Also fig. Cf. mod. colloq. Eng. and U.S. use = an injection, inoculation. Rnf. a.1810  R. Tannahill Poems (1876) 361:
The jags o his bristles woud tickle her.
Sc. 1818  Scott H. Midlothian ix.:
Affliction may gie him a jagg, and let the wind out o' him.
Ayr. 1822  H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 59:
Sae whatever bless it brag, In the hiney there's a jag.
Dmf. 1836  A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. viii.:
What's the sting of a nettle and the jag of a thorn to the scorching of eternal fire?
Kcb. 1895  Crockett Moss-Hags xxxiii.:
Ye gied Duke Wellwood's lads some most unmerciful jags aneath the ribs.
Hdg. 1903  J. Lumsden Toorle 216:
This calf-love's “speech” was hantrin “tugs”, “Nips”, “pookins”, “jags wi preens”, and “hugs”.
Ags. 1918  J. Inglis The Laird 13:
An' then the barbed wire hings me up by the breeks . . . There's gey mony jags when I'm fishin' here.

Hence jaggie, jaggy, prickly, sharp-pointed, piercing (Fif., Lth. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; stinging, of nettles (Ags., Fif., m.Lth., Ayr. 1959). Also fig. m.Lth. 1788  J. Macaulay Poems 146:
Tak up thy dwalling in our hearts, Nor let us fin' the jaggy smarts That absence frae thee maks!
Edb. 1843  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie iv.:
Thou jaggy, kittly, gleg wee thing, Wha dares to brave the piercing sting, O' Scotia's thistle.
Lnk. 1877  W. Watson Poems 104:
Lang jaggy brambles, wi' brackens an' broom.
em.Sc. 1926  H. Hendry Poems 108:
Am I no' richt in saying the prood Scottish thistle Is no' jist as jaggie as what we hae kent it?

3. In pl. with the: used in sporting journalism as a nickname for any football team having Thistle in its name, e.g. Partick Thistle, Buckie Thistle.

II. v. To prick or pierce with a sharp instrument (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 281; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 30). Gen.Sc. Also fig. em.Sc. 1706  Mare of Collingtoun in Watson Choice Coll. i. 39:
Wha being late, he bade her ride, And with a Spur did jag her Side, But ay the silly Mare bade bide.
Slg. 1829  G. Wyse Orig. Poems 51:
And jag a wee: like our Scotch thistle To gar you think.
Sc. 1861  Chambers's Jnl. (9 Feb.) 84:
As the wise man says, “We'll no skirl afore the prin's jaggit us.”
Ags. 1900  M. Todd Burnside Lyrics 28:
Hooever hard The thorns o' life may jag us.
Dwn. 1913  F. E. S. Crichton Precepts Andy Saul 21:
Miss Ger'ldine . . . wud have her skirt in tatthers, an niver heed, an' maybe jag her hands forbye!
Gsw. 1950  H. W. Pryde McFlannel Family Affairs 74:
I'll stitch the seam up . . . If I jag you I'll tell you.

Hence jagger, a prickle (Fif. 1825 Jam.); a prodder, a stick pointed with a needle for prodding (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B. 341); jag-the-flae, -flea, a contemptuous name for a tailor. See also Jaik-jag-the-flae, s.v. Jack, n.1 Ayr. 1786  Burns Reply Trimming Ep. ii.:
Gae mind your seam, ye prick-the-louse An' jag-the-flae!

[O.Sc. jag, 1507, to pierce, phs. imit. Cf. O.Sc. dag, id., of which jag may be a palatalised variant.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Jag n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2019 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: