Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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KNEE, n., v. Also kne(i), kjnee; tnee (Ags., Per.). Sc. forms and usages. [(k)ni:, Rxb. nəi, Bwk. + ne:, Ags., Per. tni:, Sh. + kne: in meaning n., 3., v., 2.]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., in combs.: †(1) knee-bairn, “a child that sits on the knee, as not being yet able to walk” (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (2) knee-breeks, knee-breeches (I.Sc., ne. and em.Sc.(a), w.Lth., w. and sm.Sc., Slk. 1960). Also hypocoristic form -breikums. See Breek, n.1 Hence knee-breekit, wearing knee-breeches; (3) knee-buks, also hneebuks, to kneel heavily on a defeated opponent (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.), to hold a person and strike him, gen. on the posterior with the knee (Sh.10 1960); (4) knee-clouts, bits of sacking tied round the knees for protection when weeding (Wgt. 1960); (5) knee-head, a knee, knee-timber in a boat “which below is scarfed together with the frame timber or cross-timber, and above is scarfed into the cleft end of the thwart” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960); (6) knee-hicht, a small child, sc. one no higher than the knee (I.Sc., Dmf. 1960); (7) knee-ill(s), a disease affecting especially the knee-joints of cattle, so that they are unable to stand (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ags., Ayr. 1960); (8) knee-lid, knei-, the knee-cap (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags., Fif., Ayr. 1960); (9) knee-plate, the metal plate used by shoemakers, shaped to fit comfortably over the knees, and having a socket on top into which the shoemaker's last is fitted (Abd. 1960). See also Saiddle; (10) knee-shal(l), kjnee-, = (8) (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1960). See Shall; (11) knee tea, tea in which the cup and plates are held on the knee, and not laid out on the table (ne.Sc. 1960); (12) knee-wife, a midwife [translation of Gael. bean-ghluin, id.] (2) Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 275:
There he is, — wi' his . . . licht casimer knee-breeks wi' lang ties.
Edb. 1843 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie 7:
A bare-headed, bare-fitted urchin, clad in an auld pair o' knee-breikums.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 11:
There were frail auld men, knee-breekit, Wi' mumlin' tongues an' een half-steekit.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags iii.:
I hasted to draw on my knee-breeks.
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray x.:
Wha ever saw an angel in a black doublet an' knee-breeks.
(5) Ork. 1770 P. Fea MS. Diary (July):
Thos. put the beems in the boat and knee-heads.
(6) Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 244:
Fae I wis a knee height I'm aye hed a odious laekin' fir da lasses.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (19 Feb.):
A'm geen aboot craeturs noo frae I wis a knee hicht.
(8) Sc. 1824 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 230:
A huge pair of old boots, reaching to his knee-lids.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs (1870) 192:
It will be lang ere you wear to the knee lids.
(10) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (10 Feb.):
A'm fa'n an' shürely dung me knee-shal oot o' his place.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 133:
Dan ta brak wan o' dat pantiles apo yer kjnee — weel, if he guidna da first time, heth da kjneeshall siffered.
(11) Bnff. 1891 W. Grant Anecdotes 98:
We had first a knee tea, then there was a lang vacancy, an' syne we had a confectionar supper!
(12) Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road vi.:
The ailment of bairns in women and the need for knee-wives.

2. “The bend in the plough-beam into which the plough-share fits” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)); a bend in the coulter-stem of a plough (Fif., Lth. 1960).

3. A slanting obtuse-angled cut made in the side of a sheep's ear as a mark of ownership (Jak.). Cf. v., 2.

4. A small hill, appar. so called from its shape. Obs. in Eng. Peb. 1775 A. Pennecuik Tweeddale (1815) 50:
Hills are variously named, according to their magnitude; as . . . Shank, Brae, Kneis.

II. v. 1. To bend or be bent in the middle so as to form a knee-shaped angle, “as a nail in being driven into the wall” (Abd. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif. 1960), also of the stalks of plants. Ppl.adj. kne(e)d, knaed, bent. Gsw. 1733 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 391:
¥1 sterling for a hanging lock and hasp, and two kneed staples, four screw nails and four nutts.
Ags. 1808 Jam.:
The wind is said to knee corn, when it breaks so that the corn bows down, and strikes root, by the stalk.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 60:
Bent or kneed at the joints.
Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm II. 227:
The clover was found so luxuriant that it was kneed down, that is, its lower part was lying upon the ground, while its upper part only, seemingly formed the growing crop.
Mry. 1952 Bulletin (9 Sept.) 4:
Some kinds of corn are more apt to break and knee than others.

Combs.: (1) knee'd grass, a kind of grass with a characteristic joint in the stem, fox-tail grass (see quot.) (Dmb. 1960). Cf. obs. Eng. knee-grass, bristle-grass; (2) knee-shackled, adj., see quot. (1) Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 296:
Alopecurus Geniculatus, a small sweet rich grass . . . commonly called the knee'd or elbow grass.
(2) Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. I. 369:
Drilled grain crops, from wanting an equable and general support among their own stems, owing to the distance between the rows, are likewise more liable than those sown broadcast, to suffer injury from heavy rains and strong blasts of wind, by which their stems are apt to be broken down irregularly, and interlaced among each other, which is technically denominated knee-shackled.

2. To mark the ear of a sheep by means of a slanting cut (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Cf. n., 3. Sh. 1897 Shetland News (18 Dec.):
The left lugg kneed on both sides.
Sh. 1898 Ib. (17 Dec.):
Da right lug wis knaed an' twa holes i' da left ane.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
A kned lug; kned afore, kned ahint.

[O.Sc. kne-hede, a piece of naturally bent timber used in ship-building, 1494, kneyit, having an angular bend, 1583.]

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"Knee n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Dec 2021 <>



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