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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PRAP, n., v. Also ¶prip (Ork.). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. prop (Bwk. 1823 A. Hewit Poems 91; Ags. 1873 T. Watson Poems 37; Ayr. 1876 J. Ramsay Gleanings 83). See P.L.D. § 54.

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a support. Hence fig., a leg, limb (Ags. 1966), orig. a Sc. usage, now slang or dial. in Eng.Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 119:
Wi' his stiff shank . . . As thick again 's his soople prop.

2. An object or objects, esp. a heap of stones or peats, propped against one another (Ork. 1929 Marw., prip), set up as a marker for a variety of purposes, specif. (1) as a land-mark or boundary-mark.Abd. 1733 Session Papers, Fraser v. Buchan (27 Feb.) 2:
It appears, that a March was set, and that Props of Stones were placed a-cross the Moss.
Ags. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XI. 422, note:
There is a prop of stones on the western verge of the Glassmile, which is deserving of notice by reason of its locality, — resting, as it may be said to do, upon three parishes.
Abd. 1874 W. Scott Dowie Nicht 40:
Afore a left the place a pat up a prop o' stanes t' mark the place it left.
Per. 1932 Our Meigle Book 112:
On Keillor Hill he erected a meridian column or prap.

(2) as a memorial, to mark a grave.Fif. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IX. 71:
There is, however, about 200 yards to the westward, a cairn of stones which is called Sir Robert's Prap, and which is said to contain the body of Sir Robert Balfour, laird of Denmile, who was slain in a duel there.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 382:
I can tell you that we're sittin' on their graves. D'ye fin' yersel's sittin' on praps?
Lnk. 1928 W. C. Fraser Yelpin' Stane 103:
At times they arranged to lunch together, either at the Drudel Nypes on the one moor or at the Weaver's Prap on the other.

(3) as a target for shooting or throwing at (Abd. 1966).Sc. 1808 Jam.:
Prap. A mark, or butt, seems to receive this name, as being something raised up, or supported, above the level of the ground, that persons may take aim at.
Ags. 1821 D. Shaw Songs 9:
There twa-three year poor Nap. did cock . . . Just like a prap upon a rock.

(4) in ploughing: as a guide to mark the course and end of the first furrow of the rig (Ork., ne.Sc. 1966). Also fig.Abd. 1898 J. Hardie Sprays 18:
The props ye set to mak' a' straucht, Are sure to vex and bore ye.
Sc. 1926 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 3:
Then some wi' pins, and some wi' props, They a' began a-feerin'.
Abd. 1952 Buchan Observer (28 Oct.):
“Fat aboot a feering noo!” he said. “We'll need to put up some props.” “Ach, d'ye see that craw up the rig there! Weel ca' straucht till't.” But the crow shifted his meathes, and so did Wullie.
Abd. 1963 Huntly Express (1 Feb.) 5:
Unlike the more determined competitors the halflin never set a line to keep him straight when feering, but set up props of divots as he would have done at home.

3. Extended uses: (1) a molehill.Ags. 1880 J. Watt Poet. Sk. 13:
[She] made barley-meal baps, like moudie-wort praps.

(2) a tall chimney-stack.Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 19:
[It] seem'd as if Rum — Dewin prap and Reek, form'd one entire lang lum.

4. An act of throwing or shooting at a target, a throw, shot, “go”; in pl. a game at this.Sc. 1835 Fraser's Mag. (Nov.) 516:
At praps or bulls some play thegither.
Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 42:
He's a target for onybody to hae a prap at that likes, without the power to retaliate.

II. v. 1. As in Eng. (Slg. 1804 G. Galloway Poems 31; Ayr. 1841 J. Paton Songs 27; Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems 85). Deriv. prapper, a support, prop.Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 116:
Thae hingin' sprays that bield the mavis' eggs, Will sune be prappers for its younglin's legs.

2. To mark (a boundary or the like) by means of a (series of) prap(s), “to designate by landmarks” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.); to set up praps for ploughing. Ppl.adj. propt, prapped, in comb. cairn-propt, marked or defined by means of cairns.Abd. 1843 Session Papers, Paterson v. Leslie (18 Nov.) 4:
It is cairnpropt and marched with stones, to a great cairn at the head of the Blackhill.
Bnff. 1965 Scotsman (20 Nov.) Suppl. 5:
A'll ging up an fear the ley the time ma faither props it.

3. To set up (any object) on end; to set up as a target for throwing or shooting at (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1966).Hdg. 1883 J. Martine Reminisc. 30:
“Shadey” prappit a bit of coal that fell from a cart in the middle of the street.

4. tr. or intr. To aim or throw (stones, marbles, etc.) at a target or prap (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.). Deriv. prapper, the object aimed, specif., a type of marble used for this purpose in the game of marbles played in a ring.Edb. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (July) 401:
Many a time when I pass the light-hearted companies playing at the ring, have I felt inclined to borrow a prapper, and try a shot for auld langsyne.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie x.:
At bools thou nicks, at paips thou praps, Thou birls bawbees, thou dozes taps.
Fif. 1899 Proc. Philos. Soc. Gsw. 12:
There was no thought of blowing eggs for collection, rather were they set up on a dyke as a mark in the sport called prappin.

[O.Sc. propp, a boundary stake, 1450, to mark out with stakes or cairns, 1456, prop, a butt for shooting at, 1496. There seems to be some confusion in II. 4. with Pap, v.]

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"Prap n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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