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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MIRKEN, v. To grow dark, to darken, to become overcast, as the sky at late twilight (Sh. 1963). Hence vbl.n. mirkenin, -an, mirkinnen, mirknin(g), -en, murknin, late twilight, the period just before dark (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 153, 1929 Marw.; Sh. 1963); ppl.adj. mirkening, darkening, merging into darkness.Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 102:
Ae simmer e'en baith wale an' trig, About the mirkning.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 6:
I aye keep a sherp e' aboot me in da mirkinnen.
Ayr. 1883 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) V. 185:
The clachan lichts begin to blink ayont the mirkning brae.
Sh. 1931 Shetland Times (14 March) 7:
I' da murknin' o' da winter whin da Ness oot yundir was braakin' white.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 48. 11:
Whin Simmer fled, an nichts begood ta mirken.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
there in that land whaur the sun was an oven
and midgie-cloods mirkent the air.
Sh. 1990 Observer 11 Mar :
A brief dialect glossary lists dozens of words for the extraordinary quality of Shetland light: 'simmer dance', the shimmer of the sea in summer time; 'mirkenin', the time when darkness is falling.

[Mirk, adj. + -en, suff. O.Sc. myrken, c.1420, Mid.Eng. merkin, id. For the Sh. forms cf. Icel., Norw. dial. myrkna, id.]

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"Mirken v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Feb 2023 <>



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