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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

KNEGGUM, n. Also knegum, gneg(g)um (Gregor; Abd.7 1925), knaggim, kniggum (Fif. 1808 Jam.), nyuggum (Ayr.4 1928). [′(k)nɛgəm, ′gnɛg-, ′(k)nɑg-]

1. A pungent, disagreeable taste or flavour (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 67; Kcb.2 c.1925; Cai., Abd., Kcd., Kcb. 1960), an after-taste; a bad, lingering smell (Abd. 1913).Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Jnl. from London 24:
It [ale] had an ugly knaggim, an' a wauch wa-gang.
Abd. 1832 J. B. Pratt Jamie Fleeman (1912) 31:
Berries' spice [snuff] had “a cursed ill knegum.”
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xi.:
Neither of them dreamt that “the ga-ano [guano] cud hae had sic a rank kneggum”.
Dundee 1991 W. N. Herbert in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 179:
An yet he cams tae peer, tae pree this element
lyk syrup inniz thocht, sklaichan' iz tung aroond
thi mappamundi's quaich, laivan a kneggum o' um
aa airts that winna waash awa,

2. Fig. A reputation for trickery, a tendency to cheating.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 67:
Ye needna pit muckle trust in 'im: he hiz a gey gnegum; an' maybe ye'll seen ken that t' yir cost.

[Prob. Norw. knaga, gnaga, O.N. (g)naga, to gnaw, as of pain, + Um. Cf. Knag, n.3, 2., a foul, stale and mouldy taste, and n.Eng. dial. nag, a sour taste, an unpleasant flavour, gen. of liquor. For the semantic development cf. nip, and for final g, see note to Fleg.]

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"Kneggum n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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