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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCALLAG, n. Also scalag, skallag, scallack; ¶skelach; †scol(l)og. A kind of land-labourer in the Highlands, a farm-servant (see quots.) (Sc. 1825 Jam.); a country bumpkin (Cai. 1972 D. Omand Cai. Book 256). Hist. Sometimes used as a form of address to a boy = my lad, young fellow. [′skɑlək]Sc. a.1714 Earls Crm. (Fraser 1876) II. 480:
McLeane of Lochbuy wes kild by Duncane Moir, McKenzie's great scallack.
Hebr. 1793 J. L. Buchanan Travels W. Hebr. 6:
The scallag, whether male or female, is a poor being, who, for mere subsistence, becomes a predial slave to another, whether a subtenant, a tacksman, or a laird. The scallag builds his own hut with sods and boughs of trees; and if he is sent from one part of the country to another, he moves off his sticks, and, by means of these, forms a new hut in another place . . . Five days in the week he works for his master; the sixth is allowed to himself, for the cultivation of some scrap of land.
Inv. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 X. 370:
A single male servant, (here called scalag).
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road ix.:
His men, he said, were scalags — landless folk of Cluny's country.
Rs. 1911:
Are thou no gaean to the skeel, scallack?

[O.Sc. scoloc (Latin docum.) 1206, scallaig, 1667, Gael. sgalag, id., a bond-servant, Ir. scológ, a tenant of church land, orig. a disciple of a saint, a student in a monastery, a scholar, from scol, school.]

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"Scallag n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Oct 2023 <>



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