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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STAP, n.1, v.1 See also Step, of which it is treated as the equivalent, and Staup.

I. n. A step, in walking, of a stair, a short distance, etc. (Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Rxb. 1971), the step of a mast (Fif. 1971). Dim. stappie, a short step; a variety of the game of marbles, in which the player makes a step forward before shooting at his opponent's marbles (Ayr. 1904 E.D.D.).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 188:
Chiels that sing Hap, Stap, and Lowp.
Sc. a.1783 Child Waters in Child Ballads No. 63 B. vii.:
The firstin stap the lady stappit.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 200:
Nae pridefu' plaister't bield, wi' staps Plann'd out wi' square or tether.
Sc. 1834 Tait's Mag. (Jan.) 439:
Gang even on till ye come to three staps.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie iv.:
Soon scamper aff, hap, stap, an' fling.
Knr. 1876 J. L. Robertson Poems 87:
At ilka stap a Scots ell nearer.
Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk More Bits 33:
“Marbles” or “the bools,” . . . “Stappie,” “The Shore,” and other varieties.
Ags. 1918 J. Inglis The Laird 10:
Sae on the skule staps we sat.
Sc. 1954 Scots Mag. (Jan.) 317:
I'll brak ma neck next if I move anither stap i' this wud.

Phrs.: (1) stappie and stot, used adv. to describe a limping, hobbling gait. See Stot, v.; (2) staps and stairs, used in similes of a family of children born in quick succession (Sh., Ags. 1971). And is prob. a corruption of in; (3) to hae or tak a stap, to take a short walk, make a short journey, walk a little way (Abd., Ags. 1971). Now obs. in Eng.; (4) to tak (somebody) doun a stap, to take (someone) “down a peg,” to deflate, reduce in dignity or self-importance (Sh. 1971).(1) Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 28:
Awa to the green she gaes stappie and stot.
(2) Sc. 1856 Tait's Mag. (Dec.) 739:
Our bairns cam' as fast as new'r-day comes roun', Just like wee “staps and stairs,” as they say in our toun.
(3) m.Lth. 1813 G. Bruce Poems 62:
To tak a stap out-owre the way.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxxv.:
Tak' ye a stap owre bye an' see fat like a birk he is.
Fif. 1896 D. S. Meldrum Grey Mantle 198:
“Hugh,” said Raeburn quietly, descending, “we maun ha'e a stap on this.”
Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 3:
Min' tak a stap oot owre the auld kirk brae.
(4) Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 21:
A'll taik yow doon a stap.

II. v. 1. intr. or absol. To step, walk, stroll, set off (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Rxb. 1971). Comb. Stap-stane, a stepping-stone. Phr. to stick on stap-stanes, to be over-fussy and scrupulous, to dither, hesitate. Cf. II. 3. a.1725 in Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) IV. 298:
God safe's is this auld Reeky's Bard. E'en stappin to the Gray-friar Yard?
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 141:
Ayont the kirk we'll stap, and there tak bield.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 20:
Wi' joy they fling the seed awa, Nievefu', and on they stap ay.
Sc. 1823 Lockhart Reg. Dalton I. 260:
Stap out, ony one o' you, if you're Men.
Dmb. 1868 J. Salmon Gowodean 116:
To stick on stap-stanes Wailtext's no the man.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xxv.:
Weel, I'll need to be stappin'.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 59:
Stapping, stiff an' steady, thro' the park.
Ags. 1892 Brechin Advert. (6 Dec.) 3:
We'll juist stap ower to the fit o' the Cairn o' Mount.
em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies 100:
We'll stap alang by Hills o' Hirst.
Sc. 1930 Weekly Scotsman (19 April) 10:
Gin the Maister cam' tae Embro' toun An' stappit through the market place.

2. tr. To step on, set foot on, tread. For phr. to stap one's wa's, see Wey.Per. 1864 J. M. Peacock Poems 64:
As gin I was stappin' the threshold o' hame.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 126:
I mind when I was young an lithe, an' stievely stapp'd the yird.

3. Vbl.n. stappin in comb. stappin-stane, a stepping-stone, lit. and fig. Phr. to stand on stappin-stanes, to be excessively fussy or scrupulous, to dither, to obstruct progress by punctilio, to be over-nice (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Cf. II. 1. above.Ags. 1794 Tam Thrum Look before ye Loup II. 10:
When a Constitution's to mak, ye ken, they maunna stand upo' steppin stanes.
e.Lth. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 129:
Wi' Johnnie I stood upon nae stappin'-stane.
Edb. 1812 P. Forbes Poems 112:
Without a brig in a' their track, But stappin' stanes.
Cld. 1818 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 155:
While we war stannan upo' stappan-stanes . . . we war surprisit wi' the soun' of an onkennable nummer of sma' bells.
m.Lth. 1857 Misty Morning 65:
He disna stand on nae stappin'-stanes aboot makin' acquent wi' a' he fa's in wi'.
Bnff. 1867 Banffshire Jnl. (29 Jan.) 2:
Teddy jumped oot o' the pu'pit makin' a stappin-stane o' the precentor's pow.
Ayr. 1896 Gl. to Galt Provost (Meldrum) I. 283:
To stand on “stappin-stanes” is still an Ayrshire saying denoting aloofness, distant demeanour.
Abd. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Clachan Kirk 194:
He maks his deid sel a stappin stane to rise upon.

[O.Sc. has stap, v. from the early 17th c., which can hardly be from West Saxon stæppan, the equivalent of Anglian stęppan, Eng. step, which also is current in Sc. (see Step). The form stap in Sc. prob. derives from Du. stappen, to step, stride, stap, step, pace. To stand upon stepping stones is found in O.Sc. 1637.]

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"Stap n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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