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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SOOKAN, n. Also sooken; soogan (Bte.); soucan(d) (Sc. 1887 Jam.). A one-ply rope, usu. made of straw, but also of grass or hay, chiefly used for binding straw, thatching ricks, etc. (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork., Dmb., Bte. 1971). In 1880 quot. Used fig. of Jougs. Also, mostly in pl., straw-ropes tied round the legs and serving as leggings (Ork. 1904 E.D.D.). [′sukən]Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 33:
Tak' this kirk sookan aff o' me hass.
Ork. 1905 Orcadian Papers (Charleson) 34:
The sookan is simply straw twisted together in one fold so as to form a loose cord, suitable only for temporary use. It is much used for tying straw into bundles.
Ork. c.1912 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 19:
He went into the barn, turned a sookan on his thumb (a teat of straw twisted once without being laid double as in the simman) passed the end under the instep and over the top of his boot, coiled the rest around the top of his boot and up his leg as high as he wished, shoved the loose end down and under the top row to fasten it, and he had a pair of leggings.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 32:
Sometimes to save straw the farmer twisted a sookan, that is, a straw rope of one strand . . . . In tying up large bundles of straw called hallows the sookan was always used as a band.

[Gael. Sùgan, a hay or straw rope.]

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"Sookan n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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