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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

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 27 Sep 2022 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/spug>

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