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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SLAWK, n. Also slauk(e), sla(a)ck, slaak; sloke, slock; slag. A variant of Slake, q.v., an edible alga, laver or other species (Fif. 1718 Burgess Ticket Buckhaven 1, slaack; Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 967, Abd. 1815 J. Arbuthnot Fishes 39, sloke; Inv. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIV. 167, slock; Ork. 1929 Marw., slag, Ork. 1970). Comb. green sloke, id. (Sc. 1777 J. Lightfoot Flora Scot. II. 970). [slɑ:k]Ags. 1776 First Hist. Dundee (Millar 1923) 177:
The water runs away the Slack and filth that would otherways choke up the Harbour.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 135:
His haurns wi' slawk and sludge war muddy.
Sc. 1861 H. MacMillan Footnotes 127:
That green slimy matter . . . to which in Scotland the expressive name of slaak has been applied.
Hebr. 1929 F. M. McNeill Sc. Kitchen 215:
Gather sloke on the rocks and wash in cold water till the salt and sand are removed. . . . In fashionable circles sloke used to be highly esteemed as “marine sauce”.

Adj. slaukie, -y, slawkie, covered with slawk, slimy; smooth, soft and flabby, “descriptive of soft flesh, such as young veal, especially when boiled” (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.); fig. of speech or movement: slow, lax, sluggish, comb. slaukie-spoken, slow or drawling in speech (Ags. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 358:
Twa slauky stanes seemit his spule-banes.
Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 28:
Ye haud me [river] down, on a slawkie bed, Whilk breeds an unco smell.

[O.Sc. slak, 1475, Ir. slabhac, Gael. slabhagan, id. For I.Sc. forms cf. Icel., Faer. slavak, of the same Celtic orig.]

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"Slawk n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Oct 2022 <>



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