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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LAB, n., v. Also labb. [lɑb, lǫb]

I. n. 1. A lump, or large piece of anything (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Slk. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 178; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein); a portion, fragment, bit; a shred or piece, as of skin or cloth torn away and hanging loose (Lth., Dmf., Rxb. 1960).Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 57:
Neist day, the corn was blawn to labbs.
s.Sc. 1859 J. Watson Bards 107:
See that ye get labs by herte O' the prophit Jerimiah.

2. Hence: a pendulous ornament, a projecting drooping part of an object.Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 27:
A Roman urn, wi' siller labs.

3. A blow, a stroke (Ags. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Bwk., Slk. 1960).Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 65:
[I] maun bide the lab o' critics bill Like ither fowk.

4. A throwing of anything out of the hand, a pitching, tossing movement. Specif.: a game of marbles (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Ayr. 1960) “where the cully is thrown from the hand at the ring” (Dmb. 1919 T.S.D.C., labbie; Gsw. 1960); a large marble used in the game (Slg. 1960, labbie).Edb. 1822 R. Wilson Poems 30:
His horse stood still, an' wi' a wallop, Clean heels-owre-head he wi' a lab Stack to the shouthers like a stab.
Lnk. 1825 Jam.:
Penny-stanes, quoits, &c., are said to be thrown with a lab.

II. v. 1. To rip or tear skin or cloth so as to leave a shred or strip hanging loose (Lth. 1960). Cf. n., 3.Lth. 1958:
I've labbit my jaicket on a nail.

2. To strike severely, beat (Sc. 1825 Jam.), to swipe, deliver a slashing blow.Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 165:
I hae nae fears that a' the axes o' our enemies . . . could ever . . . penetrate through the outer ring . . . far less lab awa intil the heart o' the michty bole o' the Tree.
Gsw. 1910 H. Maclaine My Frien' 24:
My golf stick labbed him on the chin.

3. To dash, clash, fall flat, pitch forward on the face (Sc. 1880 Jam.).Ayr. 1883 W. Aitken Lays 137:
A cuddy ne'er try to bamboozle 'im, Or else ye, like Rab, in the dyke-shuch may lab.
Gsw. 1884 H. Johnston Martha Spreull 95:
The heavy-fingert tawse labbit wi' a stingin' clash on Tammas' jaw-blade.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 59:
On I sprauchled heid agee, Till against the wa' I labbit.

4. (1) To pitch, throw from the hand (Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Ayr. 1960), “with a swing of the arm, in the manner a quoit is thrown” (Sc. 1818 Sawers). Comb. lab-in-the-tub, a kind of cockshy at a fair, consisting of a slightly-tilted pail or tub into which balls are thrown. Those which do not bounce out again win a prize.Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 70:
An' tho' thy trouts are genty gabbit, The wale o' them, on bank, he's labbit.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle i. ii.:
Galleries, coco-nut shies, lab-in-the-tub.

(2) Fig. To dash down hurriedly (in writing).Lth. 1858 The Dark Night 227:
Just lab down some bit word or twa.

5. To walk with a long swinging step (Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems Gl.).

[Sc. form of Eng. lob, a lump, something pendulous, of uncertain orig. Cf. Du. lob(be), a hanging lip, hanging sleeve, e.Fris. lob(be), a hanging lump of flesh. The v. meanings are from the n. but the exact sense development is uncertain. See P.L.D. § 54.]

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"Lab n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Dec 2022 <>



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