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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SPUG, n. Also speug, spiug (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.), spyug, sp'yag. Dim. form speugle. [sp(j)ʌg]

1. A name for the house sparrow, Passer domesticus (n.Sc. 1808 Jam., Cld. 1825 Jam., sp(e)ug; Kcb. 1878 Zoologist II. 427, spyug; Per., e.Lth., Rxb. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 60; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 268, spyug; Ayr. 1929 Paton and Pike Birds Ayr. 27, speug). Also spuggie, speugie. Gen.(exc.Sh.) Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1875 A. L. Orr Poems 15:
They could'na save as much as feed a spug.
Kcb. 1885 J. S. McCulloch Poems 35:
The wren, the spyug, the sparrow.
Per. 1901 I. Maclaren Young Barbarians 2:
Peter McGuffie, commonly called the Sparrow, or in Scotch tongue “Speug.”
Ags. 1929 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 326:
Eck Coutts the policeman, locally known as the “deein' spug.”
Edb. 1958 J. W. Oliver Peevers 18:
When the linty sings sae cheerily, And the speugs are thrang at cheepin'.
Gsw. 1987 Peter Mason C'mon Geeze Yer Patter! 85:
Ah saw a wee speug swallyin a big blood sucker. I saw a little sparrow swallowing a big worm.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 74:
The trees hae tongues,
birds gree, e'en the spuggies harmonise. We stand
dumfoonert afore oor ain unco creation,
the new onset o the Scottish nation.
Dundee 1991 W. N. Herbert in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 178:
an hoodie craws, an doos, an speugies,
an heckil-breistit thrushis, an noo
Eh'm boakin flooers: barkan doaggies
an kirrie-dumplins an gillyflooers -
waash yir hauns, waash yir hauns
Lnk. 1997 Duncan Glen Seventeen Poems 5:
And the speugies
and stookies and craws - and blackies e'en.
And waws to sclim to fields for shootin
foxes - ae fox - and maukins and rats.
Edb. 2004:
Aw the wee speugs playin in a dust bath.

2. Fig. usages: (1) a child (Slg. 1940); (2) an insignificant, pitiful or helpless person; (3) a small, plucky fellow (Per. 1971); (5) a tall, thin person (Cld. 1825 Jam., speug). This is prob. a different word due to confusion with Spaig; (5) in dim. form speugle, anything very slender (Ib.).(2) Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 347:
A puir aul' peeferin sp'yag like that.
(3) Ayr. 1927 J. Carruthers A Man Beset I. i.:
Andrew was ‘a tifty speug' — and fought hard.

[Variant of Spurg. Cf. Sprug.]

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"Spug n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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