Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PLISKIE, n., adj. Also plisk(e)y; ¶plistrie (Ork. 1931 Orcadian (7 May)), and reduced form plisk. [′plɪski; m.Sc. + ′plʌ-]

I. n. 1. A practical joke, a trick, a prank, escapade, “sometimes used to denote an action, which is productive of bad consequences, although without any such intention” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc., obsol. Also in n.Eng. dial. Also in deriv. pliskin (Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St. Patrick I xi.). Phr. to play one a pliskie, to play a (dirty) trick on, to “do one down,” “take it out of” by way of retribution. Gen.Sc. Sc. 1706  Sc. Antiquary XII. 99:
Its nae forgotten yet, the foul Plisk they Play'd us about our Caledonia Business.
Lnl. 1771  J. Finlayson Marches Day (1814) 46:
Beegod, I'll play him a plisky for this.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Earnest Cry xvii.:
Deil na they never mair do guid, Play'd her that pliskie.
Mry. 1806  R. Jamieson Pop. Ballads I. 297:
Slee, snackie, and wilie, and quirkie, And famous for pliskies and tricks.
Sc. 1816  Scott Antiquary xli.:
I can hae nae reason to play an ill pliskie t'ye in the day o' your distress.
Slk. 1827  Hogg Tales (1874) 323:
I would play him sic a plisky as he shouldna forget till his dying day.
Sc. 1887  Stevenson Underwoods 120:
Of a' their foreign tricks an' pliskies, I maist abominate their whiskies.
Per. 1894  I. Maclaren Brier Bush 214:
It wes a bonnie like pliskie onywy, and hardly fit for an Auld Kirk elder.
Kcb. 1898  Crockett Standard Bearer xxvii.:
It's easy seen Quintin MacClellan wasna in the Presbytery when the deil played sic pliskies doon about the Rerrick shores.
Kcd. 1900  W. McGillivray Glengoyne I. ii.:
Rob and you played me a pliskie fan ye hod ma pick and ma spade in a broom buss.
Rxb. 1913  Kelso Chron. (21 Feb.) 4:
But aft oorsel's we've jooked detection In mony a plisky.
Slg. 1932  W. D. Cocker Poems 53:
The bairnies, comin' hame frae schule, Play pliskies at the door.

2. A plight, predicament, a woeful state (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., Bnff., Abd., Ags., Fif. 1966); a “dance”. Slk. 1818  Hogg Tales (1874) 221:
Have ye nae pity on your master. . . . an' him in sic a plisky?
Edb. 1821  W. Liddle Poems 27:
Was it ale or whisky That d—d ye into sic a plisky?
Kcb. 1897  A. J. Armstrong R. Rankine 24:
Ye got your ain way for the start, but it led ye a queer pliskie in the en'.
Fif. 1900  S. Tytler Jean Keir iii.:
He did not get beyond a breathless “We've gotten into a plisky.”
Ags. 1921  D. H. Edwards Fisher Folks 163:
I hae been in mony a sair sad pliskie, yet I hae mony blessin's to be gratefu' for.
Bnff. 1927  Banffshire Jnl. (15 March):
Ye little ken what pains I prove Or how severe my plisky O.

3. A row, disturbance, affray. Abd. 1877  G. MacDonald M. of Lossie I. iv.:
They're a' oot to Scaurnose to see the plisky!
Gsw. 1884  H. Johnston M. Spreull 66:
Ae day there wis a terrible pliskie atween them.

4. An extravagant notion, a wild idea, a “bee in one's bonnet”, a crotchet (Abd., Kcd. 1966). Abd. 1868  W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 97:
She took some pliskie in her head, And cowed me wi' a clarty slight.
Edb. 1928  A. D. Mackie In Two Tongues 42:
What thrawn pliskie made Him gar Men fyke for floo'rs amon' the glaur.

II. adj. Mischievous, full of tricks, wily. Rare. In 1883 quot. in reduced form plisk used adv. irreg. = falsely, deceitfully. Sc. 1883–4  Royal Caled. Curling Club Annual 363:
Atweel, guidwife I played ye plisk When I set aff the day.
Ayr. 1887  J. Service Dr. Duguid 27:
Auld Habkin o' the Pethfit, who was a pliskie body, scartled a wheen scadded pennies on the street at his dochter's waddin'.
Wgt. 1912  A.O.W.B. Fables frae French 50:
They saw a Tod, an', heth! they kent him weel As baith a plisky an' a grippy chiel.

[Orig. obscure. The form plisk though very rare, is attested earliest and may be the orig., with pliskie as a dim. Cf. Plasket, Pliskit.]

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"Pliskie n., adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jun 2019 <>



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