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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

MAIG, n., v. Also m(a)(e)g. [meg, mɛg; mɑg]

I. n. 1. A hand, gen. a large ungainly one, a paw (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., Cai., em.Sc.(b), s.Sc. 1962). Used with contemptuous force. Derivs. maigless, clumsy with the hands (Sh. 1962); ‡maegsie, n., a person with large, flipper-like hands (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); adj., having large hands (Sh. 1880 Jam., Sh. 1962); comb. maeghaand, “a hand that spreads outward from the line of the arm when the hand is held with the back up” (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.).Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
Haud aff yer maigs, man.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 124:
Wi' clenched megs and deep grey ferret een.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 79:
Clarty Kirstan, muck the lea Your sherney maegs wa'd file the sea.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (20 Aug.):
If he gets his maigs ower da jaws o' da gaut, he'll repent hit afore William slips his grip.
Cai. 1903 E.D.D.:
Keep yer maigs aff that.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 1:
Nor was there ony warden polis ti redd oot the bizz wui skeely maig.
Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers Man Beset i. i.:
“Hirsel yont!” she cried . . . “Haud aff your maigs, Andie!”

2. The flipper of a seal (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 141, maeg, 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc., Cai. 1962).Ork. 1893 Scottish Antiquary VIII. 55:
His megs sall a' be black as seut, His croopan white as driven snaw.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 26:
An' dan sheu [a seal] wad climmer ap wi' her fore megs on de face o' de rock.

3. A glove (Ayr.4 1928, mag).

II. v. To spoil anything by over-handling it, to paw (s.Sc. 1962).Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
He's maigit that bit flesh sae, that I'll hae nane o't. . . . Lay down that kitlin', lassie, ye'll maig it a' away to naithing.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 8:
Rowe some broon paiper roond eer buik; it'll aye keep eet threh geetin maigeet.

[Gael. màg, Ir. mág, a soft, plump hand, a paw.]

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



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