Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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QUICK, adj., adv., n. Also quik; kwikk, hwikk, whick (Sh.); queek (Ork.). Sc. forms and usages:

I. adj. 1. Living, alive (Sc. 1880 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.; swarming, infested (I.Sc., Uls. 1967). Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
I'm seen the grund kwik wi' hondiklokks.

Combs. and phr.: (1) quick-horn, “horn taken from a living animal” (Sc. 1903 E.D.D.); (2) quick moss, see quots. quick may here be a corruption of Quag, q.v.; (3) the quick and the dead, the name of a game (see quot.). (1) ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 46:
Eating the food with a “quick-horn” spoon, that is, with a spoon made from the horn taken from a living animal, was considered a very efficacious remedy.
(2) Abd. 1794 J. Anderson Peat Moss 2:
In Aberdeenshire, moss in the first state is known by the name of quick-moss.
Sc. 1807 R. Rennie Peat Moss 155:
In the Scotish dialect there is a similar distinction of quick and dead moss. By quick moss, however, is not meant, as Dr Anderson would insinuate, moss that lives, vegetates or grows, but that which trembles and shakes, or in which a person will sink.
Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Moss-Earth 44:
The terms quick and dead moss, invented by Dr. Anderson, seem no less exceptionable. He denominates the moss of the greatest depth, which is altogether unconnected with vegetable or animal life, the quick moss, and that on the surface, on which plants grow, he calls dead moss.
(3) s.Sc. c.1830 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 119:
Another game which at one time was common in the vale of Teviot, is now almost forgotten; which was called, the Quick and the Dead. The players divided themselves into two parties, the one taking the name of the quick, i.e. the living, and the other of the dead. The dead were all seated in a row at one another's sides, and each held a green branch of a tree covered with leaves before his face, as he sat in this region of the dead. The other party called the quick, approached this rank of the dead, and with great ceremony carry each after each of the dead to a spot where they lay them down, as if they were put into their graves. One of the quick then gives a loud whistle and instantly all the dead spring up, and join hands with the quick in a ring where they dance and sing.

2. Of a well, river, etc.: bubbling, rippling, not stagnant. Rare in Eng. Combs. quick-fresh, -sand, -spring, ns., see 1838 quot.; quick-water, current (of a river), running water (Gall., Slk. 1967). Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. II. 147:
Quick-fresh: a spring in mossy ground; also denominated a quick-sand, and a quick-spring.
Gall. 1932 A. McCormick Galloway 171:
I stooped doon till the quick-water was rinnin' ower my heid, an' I drew oot fish an' cast an' a'.

3. Sharp, piercing. m.Lth. 1819 J. Thomson Poems 111:
Three needles that were unco quick, A bodkin made o' bane.

II. n. 1. A living creature, specif. a maggot, a small flesh-eating insect. Also in n.Eng. dial. Dmf. 1777 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (24 June) 4:
Ointments for all sorts of wounds, &c. [foot-rot in sheep, and preserving sheep from taking black-water, &c.] killing quicks or maggots.

2. In dim. quickie, see quot. Gsw. 1934 Partridge Dict. Slang s.v.:
Quick(e)y; occ. quickie. The act of backing a horse after the result of a race is known.

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"Quick adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2021 <>



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