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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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 29 Feb 2024 <>



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