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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

LINKS, Used in sing. only in comb. †link-ground. [lɪŋks]

1. The sandy undulating ground, gen. covered with turf, bent grass, gorse, etc., which is freq. found near the sea-shore on a flat part of the coast, and is often common ground belonging to the nearest town. Gen.Sc. Very common as a place-name associated with most sea-side burghs in Scot., e.g. Links of Leith, Kirkcaldy Links, Lundin Links, Links of Montrose, Dornoch Links, etc. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 194), but much less frequent on the west coast. Occas. applied to similar ground away from the sea, e.g. Bruntsfield Links in Edinburgh, long used as a golf-course. See 3.Edb. 1702 D. Robertson S. Leith Rec. (1925) 5:
All of them repairing to the sands and links of Leith to look after and gaze upon the race horses which were led furth to aire.
Ork. 1721 H. Marwick Merchant Lairds (1939) II. 20:
He did not know whether Elsness gott any rabbits out of the links of Housbie or not.
Abd. 1749 Aberdeen Jnl. (10 Oct.):
The Links at present maintain about a thousand Sheep, besides Horses and Cattle in the Interest, during the whole Spring.
Edb. 1759 Faculty Decisions II. 293:
The Bruntsfield links, an open piece of pasture ground belonging to the city of Edinburgh, had been used … for time immemorial as a field of recreation.
Fif. 1797 Morison Decisions 16141:
Nor shall it be in the power of the feuar. . . of the Pilmore links, to plough up any part of the said golf links in all time coming.
Sc. 1814 J. Sinclair Gen. Report Agric. Scot. II. 622:
The land here alluded to, is not those bare shores, that are only left dry at low water; but the flat links, salt-marshes or sea-greens.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter iii.:
Sandy knolls, covered with short herbage, which you call Links, and we English, Downs.
Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frf. 26:
Links is a term applied in Scotland to those tracts of sandy downs that stretch along the sea-shore, and are more or less covered with a maritime pasturage.
Rxb. 1871 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. I. 135:
Then leave the links and lanes beside the sea, And rove the pathless solitudes with me.
Ork. 1874 Trans. Highl. Soc. 30:
A considerable portion of which is a sandy soil, and a piece of grass land or “links” along the shore is a complete rabbit warren.
Sh. 1939 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. 43:
At Sumburgh are the Links of Sumburgh, which, crossed by spray in heavy seas, have a foundation of rock … Thanks to their beautiful turf and wide stretch of level. …
ne.Sc. 1952 John R. Allan North-East Lowlands of Scotland (1974) 17:
Between the Don and the Ythan there are first sandhills covered very thinly with tough marram grasses; then an extent of links that carry fine bents and whins, suitable for sheep, golfers and courting couples; then farmland on a light sandy soil ...
Fif. 1991 William Hershaw in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 169:
It blaws aff the Forth and ower the Links,
Past the butcher's, the bookies, the pub and the Store,...

Adj. linkie, linky, applied to ground: of the nature of links or their vegetation.Lnk. 1859 J. Parker Misc. Poems 19:
The lang linkie lea rig, once pleasant to see.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xii.:
We … won forth at last upon the linky, boggy muirland that they call the Figgate Whins.

2. Combs.: †link-ground, = 1.; links guse, the sheldrake, Tadorna tadorna (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 154, Ork. 1960), which frequents links.Abd. 1749 Aberdeen Jnl. (10 Oct.):
There is likewise very extensive Link Ground belonging to the said Estate, capable of vast Improvement by Marle or fat Clay.
Abd. 1795 Session Papers, Leslie v. Fraser (29 March 1805) 75:
Those parts of Fraserfield's sea-coast, benty hills, and link ground.

3. A golf-course, the earliest of which were formed on sea-side links, as at St Andrews. Now somewhat obsol.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 14:
Then on the Links, or in the Estler Walls, He drives the Gowff, or strikes the Tennis Balls.
Sc. 1744 Scots Mag. (April) 197:
That he have the sole disposal of the booking-money, the determination of disputes among goffers, with the assistance of two or three of the players, and the superintendency of the links.
Sc. 1767 in R. Clark Golf (1875) 74:
This day the Silver Club was played for, and gained by James Durham of Largo, Esq., by holing the Links at 94 strokes.
Sc. 1797 Encycl. Brit. s.v. Golf:
It [golf] is commonly played on rugged broken ground, covered with short grass, in the neighbourhood of the sea-shore. A field of this sort is in Scotland called links.
Fif. 1838 C. J. Lyon St Andrews 210:
The member who holes his golf-ball at the least number of strokes round the links, is the winner of the medal for the year.
Sc. 1870 St Andrews Gazette ( 5 Feb.):
The “links” for the club, we believe, will be in the neighbourhood of the South-side Park.
Abd. 1914 J. Cranna Fraserburgh 466:
The golf holes consisted of permanent granite cups sunk into the Links at different points.
wm.Sc. 1925 D. Mackenzie Macmorro's Luck 26:
Curlin' or futeba', — gowf on sea-blawn links.
m.Sc. 1996 Christopher Brookmyre Quite Ugly One Morning (1997) 132:
All day Saturday they had been alternately playing and fighting with Heather and Stephanie, Moray's wee sisters, in the house and round the garden while their mums drank coffee and blethered in the kitchen and their dads hit into a force eight on the links.

[O.Sc. lynkis, = 1., from 1453. O.E. hlinc, a ridge, slope, bank.]

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"Links n. pl.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Feb 2024 <>



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