Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PLANK, n., v. Sc. forms and usages:

I. n. 1. A piece of arable land, gen. rectangular and usually just over an acre in area, resulting from the reallocation and concentration into one compact plot of a tenant's scattered strips of Runrig land; an allotment (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176, 1866 Edm. Gl.; I.Sc. 1966). Cai. 1773 Session Papers, State of Process, Sinclair v. Sinclair 9:
That the halfpenny land possessed by the deponent, lies in a plank by itself; and not runrig with the other tenants lands in Scarmclet.
Ork. 1775 J. Fea Present State Ork. (1884) 124:
Proper planks of ground, never before cultivated, might be bestowed on those Cottars, who would otherwise be destitute.
Ork. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 417:
A plough turns from 4 to 14 Orkney planks. . . . A plank is a term used in measuring grounds in Orkney. The plank is 40 fathoms square, and consequently contains 1600 square fathoms.
Sh. 1814 J. Shirreff Agric. Shet. App. 32:
Q. Is the term plank known as applicable to lands? A. I conceived it used as a term for large regular divisions, in opposition to the smaller irregular ridges of the old rig and rendal or runrig divisions.
Ork. 1841 Trans. Hight. Soc. VII. 131:
Rents are not calculated by the acre but by the plank, which I understand to be about 1⅓ English acre, the rent of ten planks of good land being about ¥10.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 6:
Each house had a plank or half plank of land, and in the good land they might have rig aboot.

2. That which has been planked or secreted, (see II. 3.), a hidden hoard, Pose; the place where something has been deposited for later use, a hidey-hole, cache. Gen.Sc.

II. v. 1. To shrink yarn by beating it on top of a plank. Sc. 1775 Session Papers, Petition D. Daes (11 Dec.) 1:
One of the most laborious but necessary Branches of this Manufacture [of sailcloth] is the thorough rinsing and planking of the Yarn, the Meaning of which is, that after being thoroughly rinsed and cleansed in a smooth running Water, it is threshed upon Planks affixed by the Side of the Water, and from thence conveyed to the Boiling-house.

2. To set down, deposit, place, gen. with a thump or in a decisive emphatic manner, to “plant”. Gen.Sc., also in Eng. dial. or slang. Lnk. 1880 Clydesdale Readings 198:
Alick Hay wha had planked himsel' exactly opposite to me.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 205:
Hastily I handed my dear Lady Matty to a seat, and planked my own huge carcase upon another one.
w.Lth. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 7:
He planks himsel' doon in a chair.
Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 35:
Some say it wis a Lovat Lord, Me plankit 'mang the heather.
Bnff. 1936 I. Bennet Fishermen xx.:
Christine planked the pail down on the kitchen table.
Per. 1964 Perthshire Advert. (13 June) 14:
Planking the lady into a beach chair and carrying her . . . to the other side.

3. By extension: to put in a secret place. hide, secrete, stow away for later use (n. and m.Sc. 1966) prob. due to conflation with Eng. plant, id. Sc. 1886 A. Murdoch Readings i. 69:
Hide it below the bed, or “plank” it on the highest shelf in the house.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems and Sk. 69:
I had baith paid for an' received ma ticket an' at that moment had it planked within twa yards o' whar she was sitting.
Edb. 1898 J. Baillie W. Crighton iv.:
“Here's a fine chance ony way for a bit o' fun,” suggested Gilchrist. “We'll plank them.”

4. To reallocate land-divisions in order to concentrate run-rig strips into larger units of area, to lay out arable land in planks or allotments (Cai. 1825 Jam.; Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 176, 1914 Angus Gl.; I.Sc. 1966). Vbl.n. planking, = I. 1.; deriv. planker, a land-measurer (Jam.; Sh. 1966). Ork. 1752 Session Papers, Johnston v. Ross (20 June 1755) Proof 5:
About the time the Lands of Greeny were planked.
Sh. 1753 J. Mill Diary (S.H.S.) 149:
The rest being planked according to the quality as well quantity may be all distinctly marked according to the nature of each.
Cai. 1773 Session Papers, State of Process, Sinclair v. Sinclair 32:
The land of his possession lies partly planked, and partly runrig.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 19, 20:
The process by which the runrig lands were laid into severalty was called “planking.” . . . In the process of planking, which threw the commonfield into severalty, separate sections of the arable and grass lands were assigned to the various holders in proportion to the number of pennylands, farthinglands, cowsworths, and other denominations represented in their title-deeds. The average extent of each plank was about an acre.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Plank: a definite area, usually of the standard size of a square, each side of which was forty fathoms. This was the size of “plank” in all the Orkney plankings of land in the middle of the eighteenth century, and later (where dimensions were recorded). with the exception of a planking in 1754 when the planks were fifty fathoms square.
Ork. 1931 J. Leask Peculiar People 125:
Hid's no sae lang sin dey cam' tae fine tae plank da toon.
Sh. 1939 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Shet. 53:
The heritors, who had replaced the udallers, had the ground “planked,” that is surveyed and divided, so that each heritor had all his ground in a township together and not scattered promiscuously among the town lands.

III. adv. In phr. plank and plain, in a flat and positive manner, in a downright uncompromising way, outright (Ork. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 245). A variant of plat an' plain, s.v. Plat, adv., conflated with v., 2.

[For sense I. 1. cf. Fr. planche, a strip of land. O.Sc. plank, = n., 1., 1610, v., 4., 1584.]

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"Plank n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jan 2021 <>



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