Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KNAB, n.1 Also dim. knablach, -li(e)ch, -(b)lick, -lock. [(k)nɑb]

1. A knot or root of fir, specif. one used as a torch (Bnff. 1960, knablick). Also attrib. Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 85:
But sair he miss'd the hauflin boots, Mid cracklin' whins and knabblick roots.
Bnff. 1883 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 113:
The Spealg chrois — on which knappocks or knablocks — that is, splinters, chips, or knots of fir — were burned.
Bnff. 1920 J. Taylor Cabrach Feerings 63:
Light [for poaching salmon] was given by a “cruisie”, an iron basket in which “knabs”, resinous fir roots dug out of the moss, were burned.

2. A large or unevenly shaped stone, a boulder (ne.Sc. 1960). Hence knabby, stony, rough, lumpy. Cf. knappy s.v. Knap, n.1 The dim. form is freq. used attrib. and has come to be treated as an adj. = irregularly-shaped, knotty, rough (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.; ‡ne.Sc. 1960). Hence knablichy, id. Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag. (1788) 500:
And o'er a knabliech stane, He rumbled down a rammage glyde.
Abd. c.1820 in W. Walker Bards of Bon-Accord (1887) 374:
O'er ilk knablick, knap, an' tern Poor Willie fell.
Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 106:
The roads they were rocky and knabby, The mountains were baith strait and stay.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb i.:
Through hillocks of slippery ware and “knablick stanes”.
Abd. 1903 W. Watson Auld Lang Syne 74:
There's a mairdle o' fix't knablichs o' steens in't.
Abd.1 1929:
The roadie wis a bit knablichy.

[Sc. form of Eng. knob. See P.L.D. § 54, and cf. Knab, n.2]

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"Knab n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Jun 2021 <>



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