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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.

SKAIR, n.2, v.2 Also skard, scare, scair; ¶skeer; skeir (Ags. 1958 C. Gibson Highl. Deer Stalker 197); and in Sh. also skaird, scaerd, sk(a)er(d), skjaard. [sker; Sh. skerd, skjɑ:rd, Ork. skjɛr]

I. n. 1. A slanting cut or notch in a piece of wood by which it can be joined to another sim. shaped, a splice or scarf-joint (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Ork. 1930; I.Sc., Cai., Kcd., Fif. 1970); sim. of a splice in a cord or twine, specif. the joining by a double thumbknot made between the Tippin and the Snuid of a fishing line (Mry. 1928; Abd. 1970). Also attrib.Per. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 XV. 528 note:
Large oak planks, from six to eight inches in diameter, fastened together by long skairs.
Mry. 1914 Trans. Bnff. Field Club 24:
The sneed of twine was attached by a scare knot.
Sh. 1969 New Shetlander No. 89. 12:
She measures 15 feet between the “skaers” of the keel.

Comb. skair-taft, sker-, the last thwart but one in a boat, where the strakes were orig. scarfed instead of being bent, occupied gen. by the linesman and seldom rowed from (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.). See Thaft.Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Sh. 512:
He [a wave] took Hackie aff o' da skair taft.

2. A piece of wood so fashioned (wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.), specif. one of the segments of a fishing rod formerly spliced into its neighbour (Sh., Cai., Per. 1970) , the hand-skair being the lowest part gripped by the angler and the head-skair the other end or tip (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.).Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 107:
Pittin' on a scaerd ipun a piltick-waand.
Fif. 1947 Forfar Dispatch (12 June):
While talking about fishing with a Fifer recently he referred to the pieces of the rod as “skairs”.

3. The joint made at the end of the shaft of a golf-club where the head is fixed (Sc. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 80).Sc. 1887 W. G. Simpson Art of Golf 92:
For all kinds of forcing players (those who let in when they get to the ball), the spring must be confined to the neighbourhood of the skeer.
Fif. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 88:
Pittin' a new beech-wood heid ontil a shaft, meltin' doon an auld guttie wi, a het poker an' rinnin' it alang the skair.

II. v. To splice (two pieces of wood, etc.) (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; wm.Sc. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I.Sc., Cai. 1970), specif. in a golf-club (Fif. 1970); to make a scarf-joint, as in the boards of a boat (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Also in n.Eng. dial.; to join the tippin to the snuid of a fishing-line with a thumb-knot (Mry., Abd. 1970).Edb. 1780 Session Papers Wilson v. Butter (2 Aug.) 6:
There was a beam fixed in the walls which was scared in the middle of the brick-wall of the staircase.
Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 80:
A club is said also to be scared, when a piece of wood is inserted in a splinter, and the whole whipped.
Abd. 1865 P.S.A.S. VI. 167:
An oak beam sloped or skaired at the ends for joining to other beams.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 53:
Her airs wur skair'd an wippid aroond wi' bent bands.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (1 Oct.):
I begood ta skjaard da tap o' me sillock rod.
Mry. 1933:
The heuk is bent on to the ‘tippen' which is scared to the sneed.
Sh. 1957 J. Stewart Sh. Archaeology 25:
There are eight strakes [in a boat] each “skaired” in several places.

[Orig. O.N. skor, skar-, an edge, joint in a ship's planking. Cf. Norw. dial. skar, a scarf-joint, Icel. skara, to clinch a boat's planks. The Sh. -d forms appear to be due to confusion with Norw. skard, a cut, incision.]

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"Skair n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 8 Feb 2023 <>



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