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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.

SNIPE, n.1, v.1 Also snipp-. Sc. usages of Eng. snipe, the bird.

I. n. 1. Sc. combs. and derivs.: (1) mire-snipe, myre-, see Mire, n.1; (2) snipefeedle lit. ‘snipe-field', used in quot. to indicate some vague unspecified place, anywhere you like. Cf. Feedle and Merry, 1. (9); (3) snipe mackerel, the gar-fish, Belone belone (Ayr. 1930 Fishery Board Gl.). Cf. Eng. snipe-eel, id.; (4) snipie, (i) as in Eng. Comb. snipie-nebbit, having a long pointed nose like a snipe's bill (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); (ii) also snippie, snippy, a kettle or tea-pot, so called from its long spout (Bnff. 1921 T.S.D.C.).(2) Abd.1 1929:
Dinna swither whether tae ging tae merryheedless or snipefeedle, mak up yer min' an' gang stracht for't.
(4) (i) Abd. 1893 G. MacDonald Songs 26:
A waesome carl was he, Snipie-nebbit, and crookit-mou'd.
(ii) Ags. 1875 J. Watson Samples 77:
His Maidy is famous for cookin' beefsteak, And very expert at the branksin' o' snippie.
Ags. 1891 Brechin Advertiser (5 May) 3:
An' listen to the hum O' snipie hangin' on the fire.
m.Sc. 1998 Mavis Beckett in Neil R. MacCallum Lallans 51 38:
Back hame she herkened tae the sound o the snipie bielin an thare wes an awfu stink o carbolic soap.

2. A person with thin, hard features and a prominent nose (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.); as a term of general opprobrium, a contemptible, insignificant person (Cai., Dmb., sm.Sc. 1971). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. But cf. also Eng. dial. snip, id.em.Sc. 1881 A. Wardrop J. Mathison's Courtship 98:
Oor wee Nellie cryin' dinna; But yet he'll do't, the ancient snipe.
Fif. 1884 G. Bruce Reminisc. 359:
Look at the scabbed-headed snipe rinnin' as if the deevil was efter 'm.
Gall. 1896 Crockett Grey Man xii.:
A little snipe of a raggetty loon.
Dmb. 1899 J. Strang Lass of Lennox xxi.:
Hang ye, ye drivellin' wee snipe.

II. v. As in Eng., to shoot or fire (at), take a pot shot. Sc. derivs.: (1) sniper, a driving stroke in golf; ‡(2) snipie, see quot. (Slg., Fif. 1971).(1) Fif. 1862 St Andrews Gaz. (5 Dec.):
Park led off with a sniper to the left.
(2) Fif. c.1900:
Snipie: a marble game. A half-circle is drawn on the ground, with the straight side against a wall. Each player puts in a marble, touching the wall. They then stand about 6 feet back, and take turns to throw marbles at the sitting ones: if a marble is knocked out of the mark, the player gets it to keep, and if he can catch his own missile on the rebound he gets another shot.

[The short vowel form snipp- corresponds to an Eng. 14th–17th- c. form snyppe, snippe, Mid.Du., M.L.Ger. snippe, id.]

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"Snipe n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Oct 2023 <>



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