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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

RAG, n.1, v.1 Also Sc. forms raag (Sh.); raigg (Inv. 1798 Edb. Weekly Jnl. (3 Oct.) 313); and freq. form raggle. Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. Combs. and Phr.: (1) rag-a-tag, the ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1947 Sh. Folk Bk. (Tait) I. 85, Sh. 1967); (2) rag-fauch, -faugh, -fallow, a system of fallowing land which has borne a crop of old grass or hay, by ploughing in the old crop in summer and giving one or two additional ploughings with plenty of manure before preparing for the planting of wheat in autumn (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (3) rag-happer, a jocular name for an overcoat (Abd. 1910). See Hap; (4) rag-ley, the lye or water in which rags have been boiled in the course of paper manufacture; (5) rag-nail, a loose piece of skin at the side of the fingernail, an agnail (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 138; Sc. 1904 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc.; (6) rag-pock, a bag for holding rags (Ork., ne., m. and s.Sc. 1967). See Poke; ¶(7) rag tousily, rough, dishevelled; (8) rag-weed, the ragwort, Senecio Jacobaea (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1915 Jedburgh Gaz. (10 Sept.) 2; ne., wm., sm.Sc., Rxb., Uls. 1967); in popular superstition used by witches as aerial steeds; (9) rag-wheel, a sprocket-wheel (Sc. 1866 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 53). Now St. Eng.; (10) to lose one's rag, to lose one's temper (Gsw. 1934 Partridge Dict. Slang). Gen.Sc. Cf. Eng. to get one's rag out, id., appar. from being dishevelled by rage.(2) Lth. 1783 A. Wight Present State Husbandry IV. 617:
Hay, which is followed by that which is called rag or bastard fallow, to which three ploughings are, for most part, given, if the season permit, and always plenty of dung.
m.Lth. 1795 J. Robertson Agric. m.Lth. App. I. 3:
Rag-fauch is ground ploughed up, and prepared for wheat, that has been two years in grass, and generally gets three furrows, but sometimes requires a fourth.
Bwk. 1809 R. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 204:
It receives two ploughings across each other, and a good harrowing after each, to break down and reduce the grass clods, and to kill and bury the grass and clover roots; it is then ridged in convenient breadths of flat ungathered lands, and sown with wheat in October or November. This is provincially named rag fallow.
e.Lth. 1873 Trans. Highl. Soc. 36:
Wheat does indeed occasionally follow grass, when what is called “rag-fallow” is made. A field that has been hay, or where the pasture is defective, is ploughed down in July, grubbed, rolled, dunged, and again ploughed, and then seeded in autumn.
(4) Sc. 1845–7 Trans. Highl. Soc. 141:
The rag-ley and urine were not applied [as manure] until the last week of April, when the ground was very dry and the weather rather cold.
(5) Abd. 1932 J. White Moss Road i.:
It's a bonny, shapely hand, if Kirsten Blackie would take the trouble to cut off the rag-nails.
Per.4 1960:
Stop the bairn fae pickin her ragnail.
(6) Lnk. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 108:
Hunt through your rag-pocks for a pair o' auld shoon.
(7) ne.Sc. 1950 W. Kemp Cornkisters 10:
She'll be yarkin' an' barkin' wi a' her great micht, Rag tousily Meg, what a terrible sicht.
(8) Sc. 1765 A. Dickson Treat. Agric. 105:
The yellow rag-weed, by which light land, when laid out in grass, is very much infested.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Address to Deil ix.:
Let Warlocks grim, an' wither'd Hags, Tell how wi' you on ragweed nags They skim the muirs an' dizzy crags.
Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XIII. 52:
Thistles, fern, ragweed, all sorts of green vegetables.
ne.Sc. 1880 J. Grant Kcd. Trad. 46:
And she could fly through the drumlie sky On the stem o' the rag-weed green.
Sc. 1881 J. S. Blackie Lay Sermons 162:
A grand growth of rushes, dock, and rag-weed.
Ayr. 1896 H. Johnston Congalton's Legacy xii.:
A whole “cleckan” of fairies one moonlight night “loupin' the ragweeds” in a field.
(9) Lth. 1783 A. Wight Present State Husbandry IV. 668:
Formerly we had lint-mills in the ordinary construction, with long vibrating arms and rollers fixed on the scutching mill, going by a rag-wheel.

2. Derivs.: (1) ragger, one who collects rags, a rag-man (Abd.7 1925; n.Sc. 1967). Also in Eng. dial.; (2) raggie, -y, (i) adj., ragged (Ork., Abd., m.Lth., Ayr., Dmf., Rxb. 1967). Combs. (a) raggie biscuit, a locally-made biscuit with an uneven outer edge (Per., Fif. 1967); (b) raggydads, a ragamuffin (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). See Dud; (c) raggy-Willie, = 1. (1) (Sh. 1947 Sh. Folk Bk. (Tait) I. 85, Sh. 1967); (ii) n., (a) a rag-man (I.Sc. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Sh. 1967). Attrib. in raggie-folk, rag-collectors; (b) a (diseased) salmon (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk., s.Sc. 1967); a bull-trout (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).(2) (i) Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Rhymes 106:
But Ah! it [whisky] is a key to crimes, What raggy backs, an' hungry wymes, Like scarecrows dangle in its train?
Sc. 1822 Blackwood's Mag. (Dec.) 785:
[It] sent up only weeded, raggy, and mixed crops.
Ags. 1861 R. Leighton Poems 17:
The lowerin' clouds were dark and raggie.
Sc. 1876 S. Smiles Sc. Naturalist 38:
His clothes were thin and raggy.
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 54:
Whaur raggy chiels
Stravaig in crimson
Snaw - is his
(2) (i) (a) Fif. 1954:
The St Andrews bakers' shops all sell a kind of large “home-made” biscuit with ragged edges technically known as a raggie biscuit.
(ii) (a) Sh. 1900 Shetland News (4 Aug.):
Da raggie min live laek idder folk, an' objicks o' peety, I tink der no ta be envied. . . . Yon raggie folk is most horrid for shaetry.
Sh. 1956 U. Venables Life in Shet. xi.:
Even packie-men and raggies were received like old friends.
(b) s.Sc. 1883 Fish and Fisheries (D. Herbert) 172:
All the poachers have known these diseased fish, from their youth upwards, by the name of “raggies” — a very appropriate name — from the ragged appearance given by the fungus.

3. A rough projection on a surface, e.g. after sawing, filing or cutting with a blunt instrument. Gen.Sc. Rare in Eng. where burr is the usual word.

4. A lean scraggy animal or fish (I.Sc., Abd., Per., Dmf. 1967).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (20 Aug.):
He's suntin ta dee ta lat da bits o' toon-mills be rötid aff o' da shannel be a raag o' a grice 'at 'ill niver come til an eetim.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (18 May):
He wid a been awfu' blied til a hed wis a cut or twa o' turbit, bit dey got non, aless twa great raags, 'at weigh'd tree hunderweight atween em.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
A poor rag of a thing.

5. The poorest pig in a litter (Wgt., Kcb., Dmf., Rxb. 1967). Cf. Rig, n.3, 1.

6. A partial winnowing of corn (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 138, raggle, 1880 Jam., rag), by the removal of the rougher or more ragged parts. Comb. ragwinded, partially winnowed. See v., 1. and Win, v.2Bwk. 1764 Session Papers, Yules v. Others. State of Process 83, 103:
There was threshed out a third time several stooks of green and wet oats, which could not be put into a stack, the product whereof was of ragwinded oats. . . . Thirteen firlots ragwinded, threshed out of some green oats, so wet that they could not be put in a stack.

7. In pl. Ragged robin, Lychnis flos-cuculi (Cai. 1967). Cf. 1. (1).

II. v. 1. To winnow partially (Bnff., Cld., Gall. 1825 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 138, raggle). Also vbl.n. ragelen, chaff, refuse from winnowing.Abd. 1717 Philorth Baron Court Book MS III 112:
The baillie has taken the oathe judiciallie of Alexr. Fraser millar at the mill of Rathen that he shall not putt in any dust stanes ragelens or any kind of mixtour in the fermes.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 403:
Corn is said to be a ragging, when it is a putting the first time through the fans, or winnowing machine. When this is done it is ragged, cleaned of its rags and roughness.

2. Of oats: to reach the stage of growth where the grain begins to appear, to Shuit, sc. to have a ragged or shaggy appearance.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 403:
Corn is said to be beginning to ragg when the grain-head first appears out of the shot-blade; corn first raggs which grows on the sides of riggs, by the fur brow.
Dmf. 1831 Fife Herald (23 June):
It is thought a great thing in Dumfriesshire and Galloway, if the oats are ragging at Keltonhill fair; but before that period the oat and barley crops will be shot, and perhaps in flower.

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"Rag n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 Sep 2022 <>



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