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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.

RIGGIN, n.1, v. Also rigging, rig(g)en, riggan. [′rɪgɪn]

I. n. 1. The back or back-bone of a person or animal (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork., Bnff., Abd., Slg. 1968). Also in n.Eng. dial. Comb. riggin-bane, the back-bone or spine (Ork. 1968).Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. hirsill:
He risl'd their Rigging with Rungs.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 24:
Vild Hangy's Taz ye'r Riggings saft Makes black and blae.
Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 38:
The broomsticks on their riggins flappit.
Sc. 1799 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 304:
Our wames e'en to our riggin' bane Like skate fish clappin'!
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poetry II. 87:
Swith in a sheugh at a' his length He on his riggin lay.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 223:
I wad hae . . . cockit up my tail on my rigging wi' the best o' them.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls o' Hame 84:
Riggin' black as ony slae, On ilk hoof a horny shae.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 15:
He threw him on the keel o' his riggan'.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 37:
The horse's load might press heavily on his “riggin'-bane” and tend to make him “saddle-backed”.
Abd. 1963 J. C. Milne Poems 84:
Wi' a lick on the lug Or a dunt on the riggin.

2. The ridge of a roof, and in extended usage, the roof itself, externally or internally, or the materials of which it was constructed (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. and in Eng. dial. Also fig. and attrib.Sc. 1707 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 116:
[He] climbs up till he wan to the riggen of the house.
Gsw. 1715 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 534:
To repair the Milne in walls, sclaitt, thack, rigging.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 93:
This is not mine ain house, I ken by the rigging o't.
Abd. 1739 Caled. Mag. (1788) 498:
Like bumbees bizzing frae a byke, Whan Hirds their riggins tirr.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 137:
The readied kail stand by the chimley cheeks, And had the riggin het wi' welcome steams.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Grose's Peregrinations iii.:
By some auld, houlet-haunted biggin, Or kirk deserted by its riggin.
Slk. 1828 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) xv.:
Naething but moorfowls and paitricks blattering about the rigging o' the kirk.
Ork. c.1836 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 264:
Guid hour upon this buirdly biggan; Frae the steethe stane to the riggan!
Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 256:
Alang da riggin till I got ta da lum.
e.Lth. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep Head 264:
The high-mettled couple were not many days together under the same riggin'.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xxiv.:
Shame is sitting there too, on the riggin' o' my hoose!
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 44:
On the riggin' o' the wastmost byre.
Rxb. 1925 E. C. Smith Mang Howes 21:
On A snodged till the riggens an ruiffs o Denum cam in sicht.
Abd.7 1930:
There is a common threat made when one will not desist some form of mischief that “If ye dinna stop I wunna need a ledder to wun t' yer riggin.”
Fif. 1937 St. Andrews Cit. (1 May) 3:
Jocky Pitbladdo . . . resided beneath his father's riggin.

Hence combs. and phrs.: ‡(1) riggin divot, a turf used to provide the ridge-coping for a thatched roof (ne.Sc. 1968); used jocularly in 1857 quot. of a cap or bonnet; (2) riggin-heid, the ridge of a roof (ne., em.Sc.(a), wm., sm.Sc. 1968); (3) rigging-loft, a floored space under the rafters of a roof; (4) rigging stane, -tile, a stone or tile used as a ridge-stone of a roof (ne. and m.Sc. 1968). Also in Eng. dial.; (5) riggin tree, the ridge-beam of a roof (Sh., Per. 1968). Also in Eng. dial.; (6) to foul one's ain kirk riggin, = Eng. “to foul one's own nest” (Gall. 1968); (7) to ride on the riggin (o), to sit astride of a roof or transf.; also fig., esp. in proverbial phrs., to be completely preoccupied (with), to be very officious (about), make a parade (of) (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., Abd., wm. and sm.Sc. 1968).(1) Abd. 1794 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 183:
My riggin' divat [of a church] frae my powe Crapp aff wi' dread.
Abd. 1857 Banffshire Jnl. (2 Dec.):
And aff my riggin' divot flew, And ower I gaed.
(2) Abd. 1922 G. P. Dunbar Whiff o' Doric 37:
Up-tae-dick fae riggin-heid tae fleer.
(3) Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xxiii.:
The Riggingloft, as it was Magnus Troil's pleasure to term the dancing apartment.
(4) Abd. 1703 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 203:
For eght foote and five inshes of riggan stone to the roofe of my oune chamber.
Ags. 1711 A. J. Warden Burgh Laws Dundee (1872) 180:
They ordered the Rigen-stanes and sclaits to be removed.
Rxb. 1735 Trans. Hawick Archaeol. Soc. (1926) 40:
Mending the sclate roof and pointing the rigging-stone and scues of the said Kirk.
Inv. 1740 Inv. Session Rec. (Mitchell 1902) 105:
Sclating a piece in the middle of that roof from the Tabling to the Rigging Stone.
Ayr. 1747 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (28 May):
Hewing Tabling & Rigging Stone & pates.
Rs. 1877 Trans. Highl. Soc. 174:
Placing of two sheaves over the top of the stook in riggin-stone fashion.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 27:
There noo, the ill bird's flaffin' on the very riggin' stane.
(5) Fif. 1758 Session Papers, Petition P. Geddes (14 Feb.) 5:
He took down the whole Gavel to the Rigging-tree of the Cellar.
Sc. 1827 Scott Chron. Canongate iv.:
As muckle as would hae repaired the house from the wa' stane to the rigging-tree.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 5:
Fair roun' the riggin-tree tie up the string.
(6) Gall. 1893 Crockett Sticket Minister 32:
Ye never war the bird to fyle yer ain kirk riggin.
(7) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 37:
A man may love the Kirk well enough, And not ride on the riggen of it.
Sc. 1825 Scott Letters (Cent. Ed.) IX. 336:
Well disposed to Mother Church but not just disposed to ride on its rigging as we say in Scotland, which Southey is rather apt to do.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 179:
But whaur is the heicht whaur he winna creep? He'll ride on the riggin' yet, Wee Boo Peep.
Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm I. xv.:
An ill-conditioned, snarling fellow, who “rade on the riggin o's authority.”
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags xxxii.:
Bent in like a cooper ridin' on the riggin' o' a barrel.
Fif. 1955:
To “ride on the riggin” of one's business means when one is too officious, often spoken of a policeman.

3. The materials of which a roof or its ridge is constructed (ne.Sc., Per. 1968).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 111:
Edie took occasion to enquire of the old ditcher, if he recollected of any timber being about the Kirk; “O ay”, said he, “it's no sae lang syne that there war a gay twa three o' the auld kipples, an' ither kin' o' louse riggin' lying in her guts.”

4. Shelter, a roof over one's head.Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxi.:
There's rigging provided for — and my meat and drink I get for the asking.

5. The top, summit or highest crest of any object, e.g. of a wall (Abd., Per., Wgt. 1968), corn-stack (ne., em.Sc.(a), Wgt., Rxb. 1968), the crown of a road (Sh. 1968), ridge of corn (ne., e. and wm.Sc. 1968), etc.Rxb. 1715 J. Wilson Ann. Hawick (1850) 128:
To help and mend the channels and caissays from their respective fore doors, upon each side of the street, to the tope or rigging of the cassey.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 125:
A lumbersome and stinkin bigging, That rides the sairest on my rigging.
Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 37:
The auld divot dyke at the head o' the muir, Somehoo, it's green riggin for me had a charm.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 13:
Ae day, in the corn-yaird biggin' A stack, an' gey an' near the riggin'.
Abd. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 17:
It's ye'll shear the fur', lass, And I'll shear the riggin'.

6. The central point of a period of time, esp. in phr. the riggin o' the nicht, the middle of the night (Mry., Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.; ne.Sc. 1968).Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (1 Jan.) 9:
Fat a noise they made in the riggin' o' the nicht!
Bnff. 1891 W. Grant Anecdotes 76:
I had tae get up on the riggin' o' the nicht.
Abd. 1963 Huntly Express (19 April) 2:
Fa wid think o' him gyan in the riggin' o' the nicht wi' a muckle pack?

7. A high ridge of land, esp. a crest of high land running along the side of a plain; the top of a stretch of rising ground. Also comb. sky-riggin, a ridge of land seen against the skyline.Ags. 1848 W. Gardiner Flora Frf. 215:
The “sky-riggin”, or boundary of vision towards the hill top to S.W.
Sc. 1873 D. M. Ogilvy Willie Wabster 19:
The shalt wi' mickle skill Had reached the riggin o' the hill.
Fif. 1938 St. Andrews Citizen (9 July) 3:
In the exposed parts, such as the “Riggin o' Fife” (the watershed between north and south).
Abd.16 1945:
Riggin. This word is applied in Aberdeenshire to certain morainic ridges of the kame.
Dmb. 1959 Stat. Acc.3 84:
The most prominent anticline is that known as the “riggin”; this name is now applied to the whole of the upfold extending east and west through Barr Hill.

8. A jocular term for a hat.Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. vi.:
Three feathers . . . in her riggin.

9. See quot. (Sh. 1968).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928) s.v. Des:
The mown heather, to be used for thatching purposes, is dried in small, oblong stacks, called riggins, and then stacked up in a larger one, the so-called des.

II. v. To put a roof on (Gall. 1904 E.D.D.), form a roof for.Rnf. 1758 Session Papers, Young v. Reid (6 Feb.) 9:
He riggened Part of his House with Divots.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 105:
The housie's mine, I paid for bigging't And whan't was up I paid for rigging't.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 5:
Heathery scraws upon the moor, To riggin tight his simple shieling.

[O.Sc. rigging, the roof or roof-ridge, 1507, the back, 1513, rigging dovatt, 1661, riggein stane, 1535, riggin trie, 1636, from Rig, n.1, v.1 Cf. Eng. ridging.]

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"Riggin n.1, v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 12 Jun 2024 <>



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