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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).

NAIG, n., v. Also naigg, neg (Rnf. 1877 J. M. Neilson Poems 40); nyag (see P.L.D. § 141.1). Dim. naigie (Ayr. a.1796 Burns Highland Balou ii.; Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 94; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.), -y, nagie (Sc. 1784 Dick o' the Cow in Child Ballads III. 469), neggi. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. nag. [ne:g; Cai., ne.Sc. + njɑ: g]

I. n. 1. A horse of any size or kind. Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. In Cai. mainly used by tinkers for their ponies and hence transferred to mean a tinker (Cai. 1962). In Sh. in dim. neggi, as a fisher taboo-name for a horse (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Rxb. 1700 Stitchill Court Bk. (S.H.S.) 145:
The pryce of a naig bought be the defender.
Sc. 1745 Scots Mag. (June) 275:
Nor cow, nor stot, nor a' my naigies.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Tam o' Shanter 25–6:
Ev'ry naig was ca'd a shoe on, The smith and thee gat roaring fou on.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 142:
So, so, thou braw naigy Pegasus Come gie's a wee hotch on your back.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xxiii.:
A feckless loon . . . had catched twa dragoon naigs, and he could neither gar them hup nor wind.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin ii.:
Ten thoosand legions o' witches . . . mountit on rag-weed naigs.
Ags. 1880 Arbroath Guide (30 Oct.) 4:
When tae the fauld the yowes hae won, An, cosy 's steek't ilk joggit naiggie.
Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 29:
Weel, gin wusses war nyags beggars wud ride.

Combs.: (1) naig-graith, horse-harness; (2) naig-shanks, in phr. on naig-shanks, on foot, on “shanks' mare.” See also shank's naig s.v. Shank.(1) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 417:
The saddler . . . wanders from one friend's house in the country to another, and “fettles the naig graith.”
(2) Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gazette (5 Dec.):
Sandy gaed spankin' up the brae, an' landed at Anster on naig-shanks safe an' sound.

2. A stallion (Sc. 1825 Jam.).

II. v. With awa': to move like a horse that has a long, quick, steady pace (Fif. 1825 Jam.).

[The ultimate orig. is doubtful but is phs. cognate with O.N. gneggja, to neigh, of which Sh. neggi may be a direct descendant.]

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"Naig n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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