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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SCRAN, n., v. Also skran, scraun, scrawn; skrand. Now in slang or dial. use in Eng. [skrɑn]

I. n. 1. (1) Food in gen., esp. in odd or miscellaneous pieces, provisions, “grub” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Ork., ne., em.Sc. (a), wm., sm.Sc. 1969); “a schoolboy's term for sweet-meats, holiday or picnic provisions”, tuck (Sc. 1880 Jam.); one's daily bread (Fif. 1825 Jam.); specif. potato-soup (Rs. 1921 T.S.D.C.).Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings 6:
Now ilka ane took up a cutty, To prie' gin aunty's scran was lucky.
Slk. 1823 Hogg Perils of Woman I. 150:
I fancy the chiel means to make it dinner and supper baith, and save a meal! But there's aye unco little scran faun among women.
Rxb. 1824 W. Wilson Poems 12:
That I may be blest wi' health, And scran.
Clc. 1882 J. Walker Poems 10:
He's get a denner aff sic gusty scraun As weel might please a wamy alderman.
Inv. c.1910 Football Times (28 Aug. 1948):
Some of the Invernessians at this time called food “scran”.
Ork. 1920:
Thu're gien me juist the merest scran o maet.
Ayr. 1928:
The miller gets plenty o scran. He's aye efter scran.

(2) Scraps or leavings of food (Lth. 1825 Jam.; ne.Sc. 1969), freq. acquired through begging; a morsel. Also in dim. scranel (Ork. 1842 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 96).Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 154:
An' ithers beg to gather scran.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 92:
An' we plighted our troth owre a big bag o' skran.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xix.:
The dogs sat ahent backs greedily devoorin' the orra bits o' skran that fell to their share.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
The're no wan skran(d) in the hoose.

(3) Combs. scran-bag, -pock, -wallet, a bag in which a beggar collected scraps of food (Lth. 1825 Jam.) or other pieces of refuse or plunder (wm.Sc. Ib.; Sh., Abd.,wm.Sc. 1969), any receptacle for food, a food-bin.Kcb. 1861 R. Quin Heather Lintie 129:
Regardless o' “scran-wallet” watchers.
Per. 1903 H. Dryerre Blairgowrie 118:
Speaking of begging; that was a great business with our friend, who had set days on which he made his rounds, generally provided with two “scran bags” — one for bread and the other for bones and table scraps.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 14. 22:
The bread box was da scran bag.

2. Any kind of discarded refuse or rubbish which may be picked up by a beggar or scrounger (Abd., Slg., Ayr. 1969); loot, spoil in gen.Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's i. 13:
Eh! but we'll mak a gausie scran o't.
Arg.2 1930:
There's aye plenty o' scran when the gentry comes tae the big hoose.

3. Odd fish claimed by the crew of a boat, such as mackerel among herring or white fish caught in a salmon-net (ne.Sc. 1969).

4. With def. art.: the act of picking up discarded odds and ends, the scrounge, “mooch” (Sh., ne.Sc., em.Sc. (a), Lnk. 1969). Phr. on the scran, begging, as for drink (Per. 1909 Scotsman (10 May)).wm.Sc. 1903 S. Macplowter Mrs. McCraw 74:
A'm shair she's on the scran again.

5. Energy, power, means of doing anything.Rxb. 1806 J. Hogg Poems 45:
I'd blow them south, as far as Fife, If I had scran.

II. v. 1. To go about scrounging food or other means of subsistence, to save or scrape together in a petty or frugal way (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh., n.Sc., em.Sc. (a), wm.Sc., Rxb. 1969); to gather in the way of gain, to catch (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162). Comb. scrannin'-Bettie, a woman who goes about searching dustbins for usable articles (Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.). Deriv. scranner, a playing marble which wins many of the opponents' stakes (Bnff. 1969).Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 146:
An' as for my victuals, I've jist what I scran.
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 73:
We'll need a' the bits o' bawbees we can scran thegither.
wm.Sc. 1903 S. Macplowter Mrs. McCraw 20:
Ye scranned a' yer mate on the Sunday.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 42:
He'd aye scrawn the hinmost bawbee.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 36:
This loonie Watched a chance to scran his bait Far the gutters teemed their coggies.

2. To take or abstract the odd or dropped fish in a catch as a perquisite (Fif. 1969). Cf. n., 3. Hence scranner, a fishing-boat which surreptitiously poaches within the three-mile limit (Bnff. 1969).Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 162:
Fin we're at the Hielan' fishin', we're eye skrannin' something.
Fif. 1951 P. Smith The Herrin 24:
I mind the first time that I scranned.

3. Of children: to spend money on scran, in sense I. 1. (1).Lth. 1825 Jam.:
To gang to skran, or to be awa' skranning, phrases used by boys when they go to spend money on sweet-meats, etc., in which others expect to be partakers.

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"Scran n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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