Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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SHEEP, n.1 Pl. sheep; rare and obs. sheeps (Inv. 1770 I. F. Grant Old Highl. Farm (1924) 176), also in Eng. dial. Dim. sheepie, pl. -ies; sheepachie (Mry. 1865 J. Horne Poems 134).

Sc. usages:

1. In combs. and phr.: (1) sheep bag, the stomach of a sheep used as the container for a haggis (Sh. 1970); (2) sheep-breeds, the pancreas or sweet-bread of a sheep. See Breeds,; (3) sheep-bucht, -bought, a pen for sheep esp. at a market or †ewes at milking-time (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 406). Gen (exc. I.) Sc. See Boucht, n.2; (4) sheep-ca'in', the rounding-up of hill-sheep before sorting; (5) sheep-care, the art of handling sheep; (6) sheep-cue, -cree, a sheep-pen (Sh., Cai. 1970). See Cray, n.1, Crue; (7) sheep drain, an open or surface drain in pasture land, esp. on a hill farm. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc.; (8) sheep eik, the natural grease in a sheep's wool (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk., Wgt., s.Sc. 1970). See Eik, n.1; (9) sheep-fank, an enclosure, gen. of dry stone, into which hill-sheep are gathered for shelter, dipping, shearing, etc. Gen.Sc. See Fank, n.2; (10) sheep-fauld, a sheep-fold (Cai. 1970); (11) sheep-faw, a shelter for sheep on lower ground below the moors (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 425). For faw see Fa, n.1, 3.; (12) sheep-gang, a pasture-ground for sheep, esp. of hill-grazing (Lth., s.Sc. 1970). See Gang, n., 3.; (13) sheep-gate, -gaet, a path trodden by sheep in grazing (Sh. 1970). Also fig., the marks of the scissors left on the hair after an unskilful haircut (Sh. 1970). See Gate, n., 1.; (14) sheep-had(d)in, -en, of a field wall: high enough to prevent sheep from getting into arable ground (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1970). See Haud, v.; (15) sheep-head, a sheep's head, esp. one used in the making of broth. Fig. in comb. sheep-head sword, a jocular term for a basket-hilted sword (Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 255). See also Ram; (16) sheep-hefter, one who pastures sheep. See Heft, v.3; (17) sheep-herd, a shepherd. This form became obs. in the 17th c. and is prob. used in Burns metri causa; (18) sheep-hog, a lamb before its first shearing. See Hog, n.1, 1.; (19) sheep-horn, a kind of fossil like a sheep's horn; (20) sheepie-mae, sheepy-maay, (i) a sheep, so called from its bleat (Cai., Abd., Per. 1970); (ii) a flower of the wild white clover, Trifolium repens (Arg. 1931; Cai., Mry., Abd., Fif. 1970); (iii) a clove dragee sweet, a sugar drop with a rough surface enclosing a clove (Bnff. 1961); (21) sheep lifter, -lifting, one who practises or the act of sheep-stealing. See Lift, v., 4. (6); (22) sheepman, a man appointed to superintend the keeping of sheep on the common land on an Orkney island, specif. on North Ronaldsay; (23) sheep-money (i) in Bwk.: a yearly allowance in money paid to a farm-servant in lieu of permission to pasture a few sheep of his own on the farm. Cf. fallow-money s.v. Fallow, n.3; (ii) in Sh.: a payment made by a tenant farmer to his landlord in commutation of an exaction orig. paid in sheep from a parish. See (43); ¶(24) sheep-muckle, as big as a sheep, full-grown; Cf. man-muckle, woman-muckle, etc.; (25) sheep-net, a net on stakes used to confine sheep on a field of turnips. Gen.Sc.; (26) sheep-penny, = (23) (ii) above (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 196); (27) sheep-race, see quot.; (28) sheep-raik, -rake, a path trodden by grazing sheep, the strip of ground over which sheep move forward in grazing (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial. See Raik; (29) sheep-rape, a rope used for tying a sheep's legs during clipping (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (30) sheep-ree, = (9) (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 406; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Wgt. 1970). See Ree, n.1; (31) sheep-reed, id. (em.Sc.(a) 1970); (32) sheep-rent, the rent of a sheep-farm; (33) sheep-rodding, a sheep-track (Uls. 1953 Traynor). See Roddin; (34) sheep-room, a sheep-farm. See Room; ¶(35) sheep-root, the butterwort, Piguicola vulgaris, “when turned up by the plough the sheep greedily feed on it” (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), but see next; (36) sheep-rot (i) the marsh pennywort, Hydrocotyle vulgaris, popularly thought to cause rot or liver-fluke disease in sheep (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (ii) = (35) (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Mry. 1839 G. Gordon Flora Mry. 2; Nai. 1892 Trans. Northern Assoc. I. v. 61; Mry. 1921 T.S.D.C.). The disease is spread by infected water snails which feed on such marsh plants as the above and are eaten by the sheep; †(37) sheep's cheese, the root of the couch-grass, Triticum repens (Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (38) sheep's gowan, the white clover (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See (20) and Gowan; (39) sheep's guide, the golden plover, Charadrius pluvialis (Sc. 1930 S. Gordon Hill-Birds Scot. 200); (40) sheep-shank, the leg of a sheep; freq. in phr. nae sheep('s) shank (bane), = Eng. “no small beer”, a person of some presence or importance, “in reference to the lankness of the leg-bone of a sheep, as indicative of feebleness” (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Slg., Ayr., sm.Sc. 1970). Ppl.adj. sheep-shankit, having thin weak legs; (41) sheep's head, the common dulse, Rhodymenia palmata (Sc. 1886 B. and H.); (42) sheep's purls, sheep-dung (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 270). Gen Sc. See Purl; (43) sheep('s) siller, (i) = (23) (i); (ii) = (23) (ii); (iii) white mica, esp. when in scales of small size (wm.Sc. 1970). Also sheepie's silver (n.Sc. 1970). Cf. cat-siller s.v. Cat, n.1, 3. (8); (44) sheep-smearing, the smearing of sheep with a tar mixture to kill parasites and supposedly to give protection against wet and cold; the mixture of tar and butter so used; (45) sheep's sourack, -sowruck, -soorag, (i) sheep's sorrel, Rumex acetosella (s.Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 1131; Cai. 1904 E.D.D., -soorag). See Sourock; (ii) creeping couch-grass, Triticum repens (Sc. 1825 Jam.). This seems erroneous; (46) sheep-stell, = (9) (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., Bwk., s.Sc. 1970). See Stell; (47) sheep-taid, -tade, a sheep-tick or -louse (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 425; Cld. 1825 Jam.; Ayr., Wgt. 1970). Also in n.Eng. dial. See Taid; (48) sheep-tathing, the folding or penning of sheep on a restricted piece of ground in order to manure it (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 425). See Tath; (49) shee tief, a sheep-thief; a local Sh. nickname for an inhabitant of the island of Yell (Sh. 1970); (50) sheep-tiend, a payment made by a farmer towards the stipend of the parish minister in proportion to the number of sheep kept (Sh. 1904 E.D.D.). See Tiend; (51) sheep-troddles, the droppings of sheep (Slk. 1904 E.D.D.; Lnk., Kcb., s.Sc. 1970); (52) short sheep, see Short; (53) phr. the sheep afore the dog, the rising swell or roll of waves that presages a storm at sea (Abd. 1885 Folk-Lore Jnl. III. 53, Abd. 1970). Cf. dog-afore-his maister s.v. Dog, III. 1. (3). (1) Gsw. 1963  Scots Mag. (Oct.) 45:
Who today remembers the cry of “Sheep Bags” in the streets of Glasgow?
(2) Lth. 1706  J. Watson Choice Coll. I. 53:
I fand nought but twa Sheep-breeds.
(3) Edb. 1716  Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 315:
Including the sheep boughts.
(4) Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 34:
The folk a' ran efter them, as gin hid been a sheep-ca'in'.
(5) Abd. 1879  G. MacDonald Sir Gibbie xxxiii.:
He's a well-made animal, Oscar! There's been a fowth o' sheep-care pitten intil 'im.
(7) Sc. 1855  H. Stephen Bk. Farm II. 641:
No sort of draining has done so much good as sheep-drains on hill pasture, which have dried its surface, and made it sound for stock.
Wgt. 1878  “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 94:
An old spade that was left by the man that made the sheep-drains.
(9) n.Sc. 1840  D. Sage Mem. Domest. (1889) 240:
A most substantial dwelling-house, office-houses, sheep-fanks, or folds.
Sc. 1933  D. K. Broster Wild Almond xvii.:
The convenient sheepfank, a mere stone enclosure.
(10) Slk. 1829  Hogg Tales (1874) 302:
For three things the sheep-fauld is disquieted.
Knr. 1891  H. Haliburton Ochil Idylls 32:
Ye're surely welcome to a day Amang your ain sheep-faulds.
(12) Abd. 1777  Aberdeen Jnl. (3 March):
One of the driest and best Sheep Gangs in the Country.
Edb. 1856  J. Ballantine Poems 91:
Wae's me, that man should daur the right to claim, To mak a sheep-gang o' a human hame!
(13) Sh. 1916  J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Siptember 23):
Repentance is a sheep-gaet up da banks.
(14) Sh. 1888  B. R. Anderson Broken Lights 78:
Sune da neebors roond a' saw Rise up a stanch sheep-hadden wa'.
(15) Sc. 1735  W. Mitchell Letter to Sir J. de Graham 26:
The Jow-Bell of St Giles, and the Sheep-Head-Bell of Duddingstoun.
Per. 1737  Ochtertyre Ho. Bk. (S.H.S.) 1:
Killd a sheep. Dinner sheephead broth.
Rnf. 1766  Session Papers, Ballantyne v. Wallace Proof 37:
Paid for a sheephead . . . 4d.
Ayr. 1796  Burns To Col. De Peyster vii.:
Like a sheep-head on a tangs.
Peb. 1817  R. D. Brown Comic Poems 12:
Two large pistols, monstrous boots, A sheep-head sword, gray plaid.
Sc. 1827  Scott Surgeon's Daughter v.:
Sheep-head broth and haggis.
Rnf. 1895  J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 156:
Sheep-head kail was counted a denty.
(16) Kcb. 1911  Crockett Rose of the Wilderness i.:
When they asked about my mother, as sheep-hefters and dealers sometimes did laughingly.
(17) Ayr. 1786  Burns Again Rejoicing v.:
The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap.
(18) Peb. 1793  R. D. Brown Comic Poems (1817) 116:
Like sow, or sheep-hog, fat.
(19) Fif. 1903  A. Reid Limekilns 73:
The “sheephorn” is very abundant, the Tubipora and Encrinite fossils competing with it in rich profusion and variety.
(20) (i) Abd. 1932  D. Campbell Bamboozled 24:
Like a spunk-backet sheepy-maay ye wad follow their daft example.
(21) Ayr. 1846  J. Paterson Ballads I. 50–1:
A half-length portrait of a noted sheep-lifter. . . . Sheep-lifting was then a more heinous crime in the eye of the law than it is at present.
Rnf. 1858  D. Webster Sc. Haggis 17:
Donald McGregor, a notorious sheep-lifter in the North Highlands.
(22) Ork. 1902  Old-Lore Misc. III. I. 25:
Two sheep men from each of the five townships shall be elected to the districts respectively to carry out and enforce the regulations.
(23) (i) Bwk. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XII. 54 note:
The yearly gains or wages of a single hind in this parish, are from 20s. to 30s. for sheep-money.
Bwk. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 II. 307:
¥3 of sheep-money, as it is called in this parish.
Bwk. 1908  A. Thomson Coldingham 289:
Up till about twenty years ago, the “Berwickshire-boll” system of payment was very prevalent in Coldinghamshire. It consisted of ten bolls oats, four bolls barley, one boll beans, or peas, eighteen hundred yards potato ground, free house and garden, one month's food during harvest, with ¥8 to ¥10 “sheep money”.
(ii) Sh. 1716  P.S.A.S. VII. (1885) 234:
Watle, Ox and Sheep money.
Sh. 1822  S. Hibbert Descr. Shetland 517:
To his immediate landlord, or to his superior, he owes scatt, land-tax, land-maills, wattle, ox-money and sheep-money.
(24) Kcb. 1896  Crockett Grey Man xxvii.:
Shear my son Patrick there, for he is now sheep-muckle.
(25) Rnf. 1812  J. Wilson Agric. Rnf. 147:
Mr John Smith has fed annually about 300 or 400 Highland sheep on his turnip fields, by using sheep-nets for folding.
Sc. 1855  H. Stephens Bk. of Farm I. 239:
Sheep-nets run about 50 yards in length when set.
m.Lth. 1897  P. H. Hunter J. Armiger vi.:
Jock Stoddart wi' his mell, ca'in' in stobs for sheep-nets.
(26) Sh. 1774  G. Low Tour (1879) 75:
They are not yet subjected to many taxes laid on them at the time of building of this castle, as the Sheep-penny, the tax on sheep.
(27) wm.Sc. 1880  Jam. s.v. Ram-rais:
The ram-race (called also the sheep-race) is Still practised by school-boys, in the following manner: one catches his neighbour by the neck of the jacket and breech of the trousers, and rushes him forward as fast as he can run. It is sometimes given as a punishment.
(28) Sc. 1778  A. Wight Present State Husbandry II. 408:
I have raised many rows of whins on the sheep-rake.
(30) Peb. 1793  R. D. C. Brown Comic Poems (1817) 174:
For Glaud and Symon's houses, each, The found o' a sheep-ree.
Kcb. 1911  Crockett Rose of Wilderness iii.:
A plunge through a low archway, the entrance to a sheep-ree.
(32) Edb. 1811  H. MacNeill Bygane Times 46:
Some winters here in wastery spent, Soon gat the start o' rais'd sheep rent.
(33) Slk. 1818  Hogg B. of Bodsbeck vii.:
A deep cleuch. wi' a sma' sheep rodding through the linn not a foot wide.
(34) Abd. 1741  Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 64:
It is a good sheep room and they yield more.
(40) Ayr. 1785  Burns 2nd Ep. to J. Lapraik xii.:
Wha thinks himsel nae sheep-shank bane.
Ayr. 1787  Burns Brigs of Ayr 91:
I doubt na, frien', ye'll think ye're nae sheep shank.
Ags. 1824  Literary Olio (20 March) 89:
Sawney had been at Alma Mater An' thought himsel' nae sheep's shank-bane.
Sc. 1842  D. Vedder Poems 195:
My word! but ye seem nae sheep-shank.
Per. 1888  R. Ford Glentoddy 24:
Ilka ane as like his faither as a'e sheep shank is like anither.
Lnk. 1893  J. Crawford Verses 48:
Dinna swatch the sheep-shankit, purse-prood, han'less loon.
Gall. 1955  Gall. Gazette (8 Oct.) 2:
When I was a young chap I thoucht mysel' nae sheep-shank.
(42) (i) Bwk. 1809  R. Kerr Agric. Bwk. 414:
[The hinds] receive a yearly allowance in money . . . from 30s. to 40s. each, in name of sheep-silver, being a commutation of an ancient permission of keeping a few sheep upon the farm.
(ii) Sh. 1733  T. Gifford Hist. Descr. (1879) 57:
6th and last species of payment in the crown rental is that called the ox and sheep silver. This is said to be a compliment given to the earl of Bothwell, when he was in Zetland, of an ox and 12 sheep out of every parish in the country for the maintenance of his family; but seems rather to be a tax imposed upon the country by Robert and Patric Stewarts earls of Orkney; for they were the first that made it an annual payment.
(iii) Sc. 1808  Jam. Add.:
Sheeps-siller. Common Mica, whether found in granite, or in micaceous schistus rocks.
Sc. 1814  H. W. Weber Northern Antiq. 401:
A clear and transparent rock, incrusted with sheeps-silver and spar.
Sc. 1857  Jnl. Agric. 562:
Mica, the other constituent of granite, is readily distinguished by its shining metallic lustre, which has caused it, in some of the northern districts where it abounds, to be named sheep's siller.
Sc. 1932  Barrie Farewell Miss J. Logan 68:
The snow shimmering like mica, which is sheep's silver.
(44) Gall. 1824  MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 410:
Butter melted with tar for sheep-smearing.
Sc. 1837  Lockhart Scott xii.:
His hands bore most legible marks of a recent sheep-smearing.
(46) Edb. 1844  J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie xiv.:
Taking down the old walls to build dry stone dikes or sheep-stells with.

2. A nickname for a second-year student at Aberdeen University, a Semi. Abd. 1865  G. MacDonald Alec Forbes xxxiii.:
At length a certain semi (second-classman, or more popularly sheep) stood up.

3. In dim. form: the cone of the Scots fir, Pinus silvestris (Bnff., Abd. 1970). Cf. Yowe. Bnff. 1951  Banffshire Jnl. (30 Oct).:
The fir cones or “sheepies ” we had gathered from the wood, to make the fire burn hot and clear.

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"Sheep n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2019 <>



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