Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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NAIPKIN, n. Also nep- (Sc. 1746 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) HI. 378; Arg. 1936 L. McInnes Dial. S. Kintyre 15), n(j)aep-, nyaep- (Gall. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 350), neep- (Per. 1883 J. Cleland Inchbracken ix.), nepe-, ni(e)p- (Gall. 1881 L. B. Walford Dick Netherby v.; Per. 1884 J. Cleland Inchbracken xiv.), nyp- (Sh. 1897 Shetland News (12 June)), nib-(Bnff. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (29 May) 5), -ke(e)n, -k(y)in; met. form neckpin (Abd. 1914); and forms with assimilation of p or k, napeyin, neapon, neepyun, -(y)in (Fif. 1959), nempen (Bnff. 1927), n(e)imkin, naepteen (Sh. 1898 W. F. Clark Northern Gleams 56), neeptune. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. napkin. [′nɛpkɪn, Sh. ′njɛp-, ′nip-, ′nɪp-, ′nepjɪn, ′nip-, ′nɛmpɪn, -kɪn, ′nɛptɪn]

1. A pocket-handkerchief (Sc. 1755 Johnson Dict.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 362; Rs. 1949 Gsw. Herald (7 Feb.), neimkin; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I. and ne.Sc., Fif., Lnk., Ayr., sm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1963). Now only dial. in Eng. Freq. also in comb. pocket-naipkin. Ags. 1712 A. Jervise Land of Lindsays (1853) 342:
Of neapons thirteen doussing and seven, whereof 5 doussing and seven fyne.
Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 47:
And have it in my Pocket here, Row'd in my Napkin hale and feer.
Abd. 1754 R. Forbes Shop Bill 33:
An' napkins, as good's in a' the land. to dight your nib.
Sc. 1776 Clerk Saunders in Child Ballads No. 69 A. 5:
Yele take a napken in your hand, And ye'll ty up baith your een.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter xi.:
Sighing deeply and putting his napkin to his een.
Dmf. 1875 P. Ponder Kirkcumdoon 59:
I've my neepyun aboot my head.
Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 81:
I put roon' my haun' to tak' oot my pocket naipkin to dicht my nose.
Sh. 1888 B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 81:
He haarled oot da muckle Beuk, Spread wide his naepkin ower his knees Ta keep da holy brods fae grease.
Gsw. 1904 H. Foulis Erchie 4:
He was carryin' something roond-shaped in his pocket-naipkin.
Fif. 1916 G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 38:
An' he's dressed wi' his lum an' blue swally-tail, An' red chacket neeptune, that dis for a grauvit.
s.Sc. 1929 Sc. Readings (Paterson) 43:
Juist gie's yon reid naipkin on the dresser.
Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 17:
He took his nipkin oot tae dicht his broo.

2. A neckerchief (Rs. 1713 W. MacGill Old-Ross-shire (1909) I. 146; Abd. 1892 Innes Rev. (Spring 1956) 16, napkeen; Sc. 1895 Stevenson Catriona xxix.; Fif.17 1951, neepin; I.Sc., Kcb. 1963); a small woven cloth with a fringe, used as a shawl (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 146; ‡Ork. 1963), a head-square (I.Sc., Ags. 1963). Comb. neck-napkin, id. Edb. 1739 Caled. Mercury (8 May):
Whoever shows the next best 4 Spinnel of the same Girst, shall have Two fine Linnen Neck-Napkins.
Abd. 1762 Session Papers, Middleton v. Magistrates Old Abd. (9 Aug.) 5:
They trampled upon him, and took hold of the napkin that was about his neck, to strangle him.
Sc. 1828 Broomfield Hill in Child Ballads No. 43 C. 14:
The broach that was on her napkin, She put on his breast bane.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie 176:
I had rested awee, and was putting my naepkin on to rin hame.
w.Lth. 1892 R. Steuart Legends 181:
Are ye oot withoot a nepkin on yer shouthers this cauld day?
Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 9:
Ein o' 'iss sheese-cutter keps on's heid, an' a neepkyin roon's neck.
Fif. c.1930 P. Smith Fisher Folk (1952) 5:
Then tartan neepyins held the sway Ower heid or shoother.
Ork. 1954 E. Muir Autobiography i.:
She always wore a napkin round her head, tied so as to form a little penthouse over her brow.

3. Fig. in phr.: †a silk napkin, a fragmented or imperfect rainbow, usu. thought of as presaging wind and rain (Bnff. c.1890 Gregor MSS.).

[O.Sc. naipkyn, a handkerchief, 1488, neip-, 1466, naiping, 1595, Mid.Eng. nape, O.Fr. n ape, variant of nappe, a cloth, with various assimilating influences, e.g. with neck, + -kin, dim. suff.]

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"Naipkin n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Nov 2021 <>



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