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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SMUIK, n., v. Also smuke, smook, smeuk; smeuch Gregor), smooch (Cai.). [smøk; (Ork., Cai., Ags. smuk, Bnff. ‡smjux. Cf. P.L.D. §§ 35.6, 128.]

I. n. 1. Smoke, reek, fumes (Abd. (smeuch), Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., 1942 Zai; Ags., Fif., Wgt., s.Sc. 1970). Intensive form smooker, acrid smoke “that makes the eyes water” (Sh. 1954). Derivs. smuiky, smookie, smooky, adj. smoky, n., a contrivance, gen. a hollowed out cabbage stem filled with oily rags, and used by children to blow smoke through keyholes as a prank (Sh. 1869 J. T. Reid Art Rambles 55).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 90:
The hams are hung up in the smuiky brace, until they are quite dry.
Bnff. 1869 W. Knight Auld Yule 118:
A' the hoose was spuein' wi' the smook.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 119:
His claes i' cloots aroond him lowan' Gae oot a smook an' filt'y waff.
Fif. 1886 W. Wilson Echoes of Anvil 81:
But freendly we live on thir smooky lum-taps.
Sh. 1923 T. Manson Lerwick 332–3:
Another playful little pastime indulged in about Hallowmas was “smookies”. A smookie was a kail-stock laboriously and carefully hollowed out to admit the insertion of dry sids or hay, with a hole at the small end for blowing through. Everything having been got ready, and the “gun” loaded, a small piece of live peat was placed in the big end on the sids or hay, on the top of which again another layer of hay was put.

2. A thick, drizzling rain (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170), also in dim. smoochie (Cai. 1970); fine, dense, blinding snow (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1970).Ork. 1996 Orcadian 4 Jan 13:
On my prowls with my camera I was accompanied by a cat, who ploughed through the snowfields with relish, a fine smook flying behind her.

3. Fine powdery decayed straw, esp. found at the bottom of a corn stack (Ork. 1929 Marw.).

4. See quot. and phs. cf. Eng. smoke, something insubstantial, obscure, or fraudulent.Lnk. 1862 W. Hunter Biggar 68:
The Elder was in the habit of pronouncing any untoward circumstance “a fair smook” and this phrase became quite proverbial in Biggar.

II. v. 1. intr. To emit smoke, to reek, to smoulder with thick smoke (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 170; Ags., Rxb. 1970).Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
The chumlay's smuikin'.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
The mill chimlih smuiks leike a killogie.

2. To expose to the action of smoke, to fumigate; to cure meat by smoking; to choke or suffocate with smoke, e.g. of bees (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; sm. and s.Sc. 1970); to discolour by smoke. Ppl.adj. smuikit.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 88:
After the bees are smuiked in the hinharrest time, the gude wife takes the kaimes out of the skep.
Lnk. 1867 J. M. Peacock Reverie 124:
A wee smookit cuttie was aft in his cheek.
Peb. 1875 W. Welsh Peb. Cotter 29:
Some in the inside wrought fu' tough, Wi' reek were maistly smooket.
Kcb. c.1900 J. Matthewson MS. Poems 4:
For a' the witches in the lan' War eyther droon't or smeukit.
Dmf. 1921 Border Mag. (April) 62:
Smookin' oot some o' the buts and bens wi' a kailrunt.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 20:
Thay've been ti smuik the hoose efter the fivver. Whan div ee smuik the beis?

3. intr. Of the sea: to throw up spume like smoke, when ruffled by the wind, as a sign of a coming gale; of snow: to fall thickly as drift (Ork. 1970).Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 72:
Tak' ye my wird he'll shün be smookin'.

[O.Sc. smuke, smoke, smowk, to smoke, c.1500, smeuk, 1549, also in North. Mid.Eng., Mid. Du. (Flem.) smuyck, smoke, vapour, smoocken, smuycken, to smoke, to be misty.]

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"Smuik n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Mar 2023 <>



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