Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PIKE, n., v. Also pyke, peyk (Abd. 1923 R. L. Cassie Heid or Hert xiv.), peyck, pei(c)k (Abd. 1826 D. Anderson Poems 1). [pəik]

I. n. 1. A pick, pickaxe. Also in Eng. dial. Hence (1) pikeman, a man who wields a pick, specif. a miner; (2) pike-spade, a wooden spade with a sharp iron tip (see quot.) (Bnff. 1965). Abd. 1760 Aberdeen Jnl. (1 April):
Any Hook, Pike, or Sickle, that bears his Stamp.
Fif. 1764 Rothes MSS.:
To 193 pikes sherped at 4 peneyes pr pike. . . . ¥3. 1s.
Hebr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 248:
The soil is of different kinds, . . . all lying on a hard clay bottom, so very impenetrable, that a pike will scarcely pierce it.
Ags. 1824 J. Bowick Characters 66:
Wi' pike and shool, wi' axe and saw.
(1) Lnk. 1744 Session Papers, Stirling v. Sommers (8 June) 5:
The Condition of the Pike-men, who dig in the Mine.
(2) Bnff. 1902 Banffshire Jnl. (28 Jan.) 6:
The spades were made of wood with iron shodding called pyke spades used for casting “feals” and “holling” stones.

2. A sharp (usu. metal) point, a spike, prong, barb (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Ork., ne., em. and s.Sc. 1965), as on a railing (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam., pyk); specif. a frostnail in a horse shoe. Hence pikie, pykie, adj., having (a) sharp point(s), spiked, jagged, barbed, of wire (ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1965). Cf. pykit s.v. II. 3. Comb. pykie-pock, chickenpox (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 229). Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. Pykit:
Having sharp iron pikes or points.
Abd. 1780 Aberdeen Jnl. (12 June):
A short Oak Staff, with a large Iron Pike in the End of it.
Sc. 1811 J. Ramsay Curling 6:
They [curlers] used to wear crampits, which are flat pieces of iron, with four sharp pikes below.
Abd. 1817 J. Christie Instructions 38:
All pykie rocks of peasy whin.
Sc. 1825 Scott Talisman i.:
The front-stall of the bridle was a steel plate, . . . having in the midst a short, sharp pike.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxv.:
I was seized wi' a strong inward yearnin' to get doon again, for the perch whereon I sat was bristlin' wi' sharp pikes.
Sc. 1909 N.E.D.:
The pike has come out of the peery.
Kcd. 1956 Mearns Leader (13 July):
I div ken aboot the palin', for the feck o' the maister's breeks are wavin' fae the e'emost raw o' pykes tae this day.
Abd. 1960 Huntly Express (30 Sept.):
Some fowk thocht it wis sair work ca'in' pikes into a horse's feet.

Combs., phr. and derivs.: (1) Glesca pike(s), see Glesca, 3. (12); (2) neese-pike, see Niz, I. 1. (1); (3) pike hook, a barbed hook, an angler's hook for fish; (4) pikes o' misery, a set of harrows, jocularly, as the source of unremitting toil for the ploughman (Ags. 1920). For this type of phr. cf. pipes o pain s.v. Pipe, I. 3. and stoops o meesery s.v. Stoup; (5) pike-staff, a long walking-stick or staff with a spike on the end, for use on icy roads or rough rocky moorland (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. Phr. to ding on (blaw, rain) auld wives or puir men an pike staves, to teem with rain, rain cats and dogs (ne.Sc., Ags. 1965). (3) Edb. 1759 Edb. Chronicle (14 April):
A neat assortment of Fishing Tackle; particularly, drest flies for all the months in the season, lines, wenches, suills and pyke-hooks.
(5) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 148:
With a pike-staff i' my hand.
Sc. a.1776 Herd's MS. (Hecht 1904) 109:
Fare ye weel, my pyke-staff, Wi' you nae mair my wife I'll baff.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary ii.:
I'll take muckle frae your father's son, but no a touch of the wand while my pike-staff will haud thegither.
Sc. 1820 A. Sutherland St. Kathleen III. iv.:
Oney time afore twal, even gin it sud blaw auld wives an' pike-staves.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
The proverbial saying, “I'll gang, though it should rain auld wives and pike-staves.”
Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 234:
The lang pike staff, poor colley felt it sair.
Abd.13 1910:
“Dingin' on peer men an' pike staves an' the pike ens o' them naithmost,” said of a very heavy hail shower.

3. (1) one of the hooks on the rudder of a small boat by means of which it is attached to the sternpost (Fif. 1951); the pin on the sternpost of a boat (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 259; Kcd. 1965).

(2) a rib of an umbrella. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 263:
A gurl came, when all sail was set, and away went the tappin lift [umbrella], down came the pikes clashing about his lugs, and one of them transfixed his cheek.

(3) a long, pointed piece of lead for ruling paper (Abd. 1825 Jam., peik), a slate pencil (Kcd. c.1900). Comb. sklet-pike, id. See also Leid, n., 2. (4). Abd. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xxiv.:
She gave him Donal's school-slate, with a sklet-pike.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 163:
The lead . . . was manufactured into “lead pikes” and “lead bull-axes” to rule the copy-books at school, as pencils were scarce.

(4) a horn of the crescent moon. Bch. 1832 W. Scott Poems 119:
Just as he met his ain house tyke, The meen set up her immest pike.

(5) a spine or quill of an animal (Ork. 1965); a thorn or prickle on a plant. Hence pikie, piky, adj., prickly, having spines or quills, in comb. piky dog, paiky-, the spur-dog, dog-fish, Squalus acanthias (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.). Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 27:
A haill half mile she had at least to gang Thro' birns, an' pikes, an' scrabs. an' heather lang.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 179:
If 'twas na for the paiky-dogs Portnessock folk wud dee.
Sc. 1896 J. H. Campbell Wild Life 99:
The piked dogfish owes his common name to the pikes or spikes, standing up like detached rays, in front of the dorsal fins.
Fif. 1949:
Thorny skate, — thorny, because of the pikes on its back.

4. That which has been picked, a picking (Per. 1965); specif. a bite (of food), a morsel, light meal. Phr. cheerie pyke, see sep. art. Abd. 1865 G. Macdonald Alec Forbes vi.:
He wadna fling a bane till a dog, afore he had ta'en a pyke at it himsel,.
Dmf. 1874 R. Wanlock Moorland Rhymes 73:
Think o' the storms ye maun endure, And the faucht ye hae for a pyke betimes.
Ags. 1905 Arbroath Guide (11 March) 3:
No a pike o' dinner was even made till it cam four o'clock.

5. A sharp pointed hill. Found in place-names in Slk. and Rxb. and in n.Eng. Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Hist. Fife 137:
The Hill rises into a pike, and its called Kellie-law.

6. A pointed pile of stones, a cairn. Peb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Works (1815) 49:
These piles of stones are often termed Cairn, Pike, Currough, Cross, etc.

7. A round hay-rick with a conical top in which hay is temporarily kept to dry before being built into the larger stack (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; sm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1965). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence piker, n., a hay-maker, one who builds hay into pikes (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1965). Also combs. pike-builder, n., a hay-making machine; pike-prop, a prop or support for a hay-rick. Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm III. 970:
The large ricks thus formed are named tramped pikes, because they are built and tramped, a man building, and his assistant, a field-worker, carrying the hay from the fork of the carter and tramping the rick at the same time.
Ork. 1874 Trans. Highl. Soc. 80:
The grass is first cut down, and after having been dried a little in the swathe, it is tied up into small bundles, which are piled up into medium-sized “pikes” pointed at the top.
e.Dmf. 1903 Trans. Highl. Soc. XV. 325:
[Hay] brought delivered by grower from the pike at 3½d.
Hebr. 1934 Times (12 Nov.) 17:
The hay, both rye grass and meadow hay, is cut with the scythe, tossed and spread by hand, raked up by hand, built into rucan or pikes by hand, and finally built into stacks.
Dmf. 1955 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (11 June) 3:
Principal quotations . . . pike builders, ¥30 to ¥70.
Dmf. 1956 Ib. (12 May) 15:
500 Pike Props, Zinc Bins, Corn Chests.

8. = Pick, n.4, pique (Bnff., Abd. 1965). Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 54:
Gin ae body tak' a pyke at anidder, they're nae lang in raisin' stories aboot them.

II. v. 1. tr. and intr., in all senses of Eng. pick: to pick (out or off), to extract, cull, gen. by means of a pointed instrument, the teeth or the fingers, to peck (Sc. 1764 Scots Mag. (April) 187; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 382; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–26 Wilson; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Ork., ne. and em.Sc.(a), Rxb. 1965). Also fig. Hence piker, one who or that which picks, an instrument for picking something out of a narrow aperture; phr. to pike aboot, to hang around doing nothing, trifle, waste time (Bnff. 1965). Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs 33:
He's unko fou in his ain house that canna pike a bane in his neighbour's.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 144:
Syne loll amon't an' pike out ilka weed.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Jolly Beggars Air v. iii.:
Sae merrily the banes we'll pyke, An' sun oursels about the dyke.
Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 239:
Ye'll sit on his white hause bane, And I'll pike out his bonny blue een.
Edb. 1826 M. & M. Corbett Odd Volume 153:
John saw some straes stickin to't wi' burdlime, which had stoppit it frae fleein', and he begood to pike them aff.
Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch xii.:
The piker for clearing the motion-hole.
Slk. c.1840 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) IV. 54:
Heron, heron, hide eer head The Selkirk craws will pike ee dead.
Ags. 1859 C. S. Graham Mystifications 32:
[The king] turned round to the lady and sought a preen to pyke his teeth.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxxv.:
Some mendin' their finger-steels, some pykin' oot thristles.
Abd. 1881 W. Paul Past & Present 143:
Deil pyke oot their een that sees a hole i' their neebour's coat an' winna mend it.
Fif. 1887 S. Tytler Logie Town II. viii.:
Sandy's lantern was in request to enable his companions to avoid the biggest “dubs”, or as he expressed it, to “pike their feet”.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
He was awaur of a muckle solan, and the solan pyking at the line.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 25:
Half the week we piked the banes, And fand them sappy.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 160:
It'll pyke their pooch afore they get 'im throu' [college] a thegidder.
Abd.4 1938:
Fat are ye pykin aboot at?

Comb. and phrs.: (1) pyke-thank, (i) n., one who curries favour, a toady, lickspittle, sycophant (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Cai. 1965), a mischief-maker, meddler (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); in phrs. pikethank for, no gratitude for, “bad luck to”, “too bad for”; to do a thing for pikethank, to do something in order to ingratiate oneself, to toady (Bnff. 1965); (ii) adj., from n. used attrib., ungrateful (Abd. 1825 Jam., peik-; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 125, peik; Bnff., Abd. 1965). Phr. a peikthank pennyworth, an ungrateful wretch (Jam.). Cf. pickthank, s.v. Pick, v.; (2) to pike a plea, to pick a quarrel, start an argument. See also Plea. Hence pike-a-plea body, one who is fond of going to law over trifles, a litigious person (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), a quarrelsome person, troublemaker; (3) to pike one's bane, to drain one's glass, drink up the last drops (see quot.). (1) (i) Sc. 1822 Caled. Mag. I. 459:
Some poor pike-thank blew the bellows, An' Oberon, the gowk! grew jealous.
Cai. 1903 E.D.D.:
Persons who expect remuneration for every action, reproach those who do a kindness without payment, by saying that they do it for pike-thank.
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (18 Dec.):
They're gi'en naething awa', ay, jist nae naething ava, an' pyke-thank for onything that is nae backit wi' a gey gweed somethin'.
(ii) Bch. 1929:
She wis richt pikethank for a' that I did for her.
(2) wm.Sc. 1845 R. Husband Poems 96:
Sae hearty, social, frank and free, Averse to flyte, or pike a plea.
(3) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 11:
Pike ye'r Bain is a Cant Phrase, when one leaves a little in the Cup, he is advised to pike his Bone, i.e. Drink it clean out.

2. (1) in relation to illness, hunger or the like: to strip (a person or animal) of flesh, to make thin and emaciated, to reduce to skin and bone (Ork. 1965). Ppl.adj. piket, peicket, of a person or animal: having a gaunt emaciated appearance, thin and unhealthy-looking (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1954 Hawick News (18 June), pikeet), piket-like (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 259; em.Sc. 1965). Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 36:
Wi' pykeit chafts an' watery een.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 125:
That fivver piket 'im fell sair.
Ags. 1896 A. Blair Rantin Robin 178:
Afore she grew sae awfu thin an' piket like.
Ayr. 1913 J. Service Memorables 24:
The folk were pykit-leukin' and ourie.
Slk. 1914 H.J.C. Clippings from Clayboddie (1921) 107:
Foot rot . . . is just about as ravaging, it takes longer to mend, and nothing pykes a sheep quicker, especially if she is nursing.
Ags. 1928 Scots Mag. (May) 142:
He had grown into an auld shauclin' carle . . . wi' a face the colour o' a canary, pykit and pawky.

(2) to eat in a delicate, leisurely way, nibble, pick at one's food, esp. of pasturing animals (ne. and s.Sc. 1965). Comb. pike-hungry, having only a fair appetite, unable to eat more than a few tit-bits (Ags. 1953); n.phr. a pike-at-one's meat, an over-fastidious or poor eater, a fuss-pot over food, faddist (Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 9; ne.Sc., Ags., Lth., Lnk., s.Sc. 1965). Also in reduced form pike, id. (s.Sc. 1965). Cf. Pick, v.1, 5. Abd. a.1768 A. Ross Fortunate Shep. (S.T.S.) 184:
Anes ev'ry ouk we lat the gueeds wear down To pike the braes just up aboon the town.
Slg. 1804 “Transforthanus” Poems 62:
Blythe pike around, my numerous thriving dams, Tending wi' mither's care my wanton lambs.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 118:
As they were pykin' thus and piddlin', And wine-dubs round and round were driddlin.
Lnk. 1853 W. Watson Poems (1877) 100:
Our mare and foal were sent to pyke Alang the lown side o' a dyke.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 125:
He pat our mony nout on o' the haugh, an' they piket it into the verra red earth.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 10:
Fairmers turnin' oot their stirks to pyke the caller blade.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped iii.:
He was a hearty, if not a great eater; but as for me, I could never do mair than pyke at food.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 13:
Nane o eer mim-mowed peikeen got that Jethart toozy table threh mei; for A puisteet an leined masel weel.
Rxb. 1958 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 26:
We were told “wire in” and “dinna be sic a pike at eer meat.”

(3) to trim, make neat or tidy. Cf. Pick, v.1, 6. Sc. 1887 Jam.:
A gardener pikes his flower-beds, vines and fruit.

(4) tr. or intr. and absol.: to steal, pilfer, make off with, “abstract” (‡Sh., Abd. 1965); to indulge in petty theft, engage in pilfering; to plunder, despoil. Hence piker, a pilferer, petty thief; pikery, peyckerie, petty theft, an act of pilfering; pikie, pykie, dishonest, “light-fingered” (Abd. 1825 Jam.), pikin, pykin, ppl.adj., id. (w.Sc. 1880 Jam.). Kcd. 1700 Black Bk. Kcd. (1843) 132:
John Reid is guilty of pyckine and small theft.
Wgt. 1702 G. Fraser Lowland Lore (1880) 26–7:
Considering the many peyckeries committed within and about the burgh, . . . The magistrats and councell fynes any person so found guilty, . . . in Four pund Scots . . . Reputed to be equally guilty with the above peyckers, and so to be punished accordingly.
Ork. 1719 W. Mackintosh Curious Incidents (1892) 169:
The said Jean went thievously, pyked and stealed two shirts and some linning threads.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 45:
It is ill to be ca'd a thief and ay found piking.
Slg. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 379:
Engaging to pay for all sheep which were carried away, if above the number seven, which he styled lifting; if below seven, he only considered it as a piking.
Ayr. 1833 Galt Howdie (1923) 241:
He was silly daft and gi'en to pikery.
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayins vi. 11:
Poortith'll pyke ye like a reiver.

3. To furnish or provide with (a) pike(s) or spike(s), to barb. Rare or obs. in Eng.; specif. to shoe (a horse) with pikes or sharps to give a grip on icy roads (Abd. 1965). Cf. I. 2. above. Combs. pikit weir, barbed wire (ne.Sc., Ags. 1965); piked whale, the lesser rorqual, Balaenoptera rostrata (Sc. 1787 Philosoph. Trans. LXXVII. 418). Sc. 1814 Scott Lord of the Isles v. v.:
His cowl the good old priest did on, Took his piked staff and sandall'd shoon.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shep. Cal. ii.:
Dare ye heave your pikit kent at me?
Sc. 1833 J. Cairnie Curling 63:
No piked crampets to be allowed on the ice on any account.
Sc. 1836 Todd's Cycl. Anat. I. 577:
The subclavian artery in the Piked Whale.
Peb. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 127:
On the summit of this hill there is a small cairn called the Pyked stane.
Lnk. 1893 T. Stewart Miners 134:
Jamie Meekum's a “Veet,” An' some thoosan's o' feet He has fittet, an' piket, an' hammer't sin' then.
Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (17 April):
A gryte oot-cry aboot the fairmers pittin' up sae muckle pykit weir.
Abd. 1960 Huntly Express (30 Sept.) 7:
I wid pike three-fower pair o' horse afore I wid tyaave wi' that — o' things.

4. To impale on a pike or prong, attack with a pike, to spike, spear. Hence piker, a wooden spinning-top with a metal spike on the base, used to split rival tops in a game. Combs. pike-sop mutch, a jocular name for a woman's Mutch or cap having an exaggerated peak or point at the front; pikin-all, a cobbler's awl (Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 29). Ppl.adj. piket, used as an equivalent form of Eng. piqued, annoyed, vexed, chagrined. Cf. I. 8. and Pick, n.4 Ags. 1889 Arbroath Guide (13 April) 3:
Some o' oor neibours will be gey piket to hear o' my guid fortin.
Ags. 1895 Brechin Advertiser (9 April) 3:
Auld Nannie Gordon, stannin' i' the door wi' her pike-sop mutch on.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon 130:
Peter and his friends always converted their peeries into pikers, i.e. tops that could pike other tops. You bought a brog (awl) point in the ironmonger's, took out the original cast-iron point, and substituted the brog. Then your peerie dottered about as it span, and hummed like a bee. . . . You drew a large chalk ring on the concrete floor of the shed, and if your peerie fell inside the ring it had to lie there until someone knocked it out. Hence you always had at least two peeries, so that you could knock your imprisoned peerie out. But while you were trying to do this the other boys were all having shots at your peerie with their pikers. Their ambition was to split your peerie.

5. To assail with hard words or blows, to berate, chastise (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 261). Hence pikin, a hiding, licking (Id.). Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads II. 98:
If my auld mither, the carlin, were here, Sae well's she would you pyke.

6. To build hay into a pike or peaked stack (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; s.Sc. 1965). Hence piker, a builder of haystacks (Watson); piking-cage, the framework on which a pike is built. Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Book of Farm III. 970:
The reason that hay should be piked if stacked all in one day.
Dmf. 1956 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (26 May) 15:
Buck Rake; 2 Tractor Rakes; Piking Cage.

[A collateral form of Pick, n., from an orig. long vowel form, Mid.Eng.* píke. Meanings I. 5., 6., 7., and II. 6. may however be of Scandinavian orig. Cf. Norw. dial. pik, a mountain-peak. O.Sc. has pyker, a thief, 1411, pyking, pycry, pilfering, 1470, 1488, pykit, spiked, 1510.]

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"Pike n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2021 <>



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