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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STEEK, v.1, n.1 Also steeck, stei(c)k, stiek; stik(k), stick(e); st(a)ek (Sh.). [stik; Sh. + stɛk]

I. v. 1. Of persons or things: to shut or lock up, confine, imprison (Sc. 1808 Jam.); with in, out: to close a door on so as to keep in or out, to inclose or exclude (Bnff., Ags., Dmb., Dmf. 1971).Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 177:
Now steekit frae the gowany field, Frae ilka fav'rite houff and bield.
Ayr. 1789 D. Sillar Poems 195:
Not a' your pow'r Could get them steeked i' your fetters.
Sc. 1816 Scott Antiquary xxxii., xxxvii.:
What for are ye steeking them out? — let them come in. If they steek me up here, my friends are like eneugh to forget me.
Rnf. 1836 R. Allan Poems 50:
My cot weel happit owre wi' thack, An' door to steek out a'.
Lth. 1890 M. Oliphant Kirsteen xlvi.:
Bring me my clothes. You steek everything away.
Sc. 1920 A. Gray Songs from Heine 20:
The warst thing, and the daftest. I keepit steekt i' my breist.
Abd. 1928 J. Baxter A' A e'Oo' 19:
Close-steekit i' the study.
Sc. 1930 Weekly Scotsman (18 Oct.) 2:
When in slumber the kye were a' steekit.
Dmf. 1937 T. Henderson Lockerbie 161:
On his entering the pulpit, the beadle steiked him in.

2. To close, shut, fasten an object, to close the door of or entry to: (1) in gen. (Sh., Cai., em.Sc. (a), wm. and sm.Sc. 1971).Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 87:
Your purse was steeked when that was paid for.
Sc. 1769 Morison Decisions 10540:
The usual stile in captions, “steiked and lock-fast places,” applies not only to those that are locked, but to those that are steiked or shut in such a manner as that a messenger cannot enter by the common door.
Edb. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 74:
Whase ear an' purse, in time o' need, Against the poor was never steekit.
Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 97:
Firm hae ye steekit ev'ry cell.
Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 77:
But, see John, when stack-yard's steekit, Gie them ay a rantin' kirn.
Sc. 1818 Scott Donald Caird iv.:
Steek the amrie, lock the kist.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 92:
Sae I maun steek my desk again.
Arg. c.1850 L. McInnes S. Kintyre (1936) 30:
But Peggy Mhor her chop did steek.
Ags. 1879 Forfar Poets (Fenton) 118:
“The wifie” [may] steek her whisky store.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 66:
There were some oysters beekin' in the licht, Tho' a' but ane o' them were steekit ticht.
Abd. 1923 B. R. M'Intosh Scent o' the Broom 16:
There the wee bit buddin' blossom Lies wi' gently steekit petals.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood vii.:
I wad like to steek the place when ye're awa' to the hills.

Hence steeker, a boot-lace (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 438; e.Lth., Bwk., sm.Sc. 1971); ‡the back-board of a farm cart (Per., Fif. 1971); †steek-lace, a woman's stay-lace (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 241:
His shoon tied together by the steekers.
Fif. c.1900 Readings and Dial. 80:
The rein slippin' through a big crack in the steeker o' the cairt.
Dmf. 1914 J. L. Waugh Cracks wi' R. Doo 109:
To tie his steeker or brush his hair.

(2) Specif.: to shut a book, close its covers (Ags. 1971).Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 58:
Among the first to “steek” his book and eye.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 84:
When the time-cheatin' page he wad steek.
Abd. 1931 D. Campbell Uncle Andie 10:
In the dust abeen yer steekit Bible.

(3) To close or clench the fist. Common in phrs. steekit-neive, †steekie-nevvle (S.D.D.), the clenched fist (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., wm.Sc., Gall. 1971). See Nieve, Nevel; to steek one's neive on, to preserve silence on, keep quiet about (Bnff., Abd. 1971), also to close on, settle for (a price in bargaining).Sc. 1823 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 313:
A dunt upo' that door wi' your steekit nieve.
Kcb. 1828 W. McDowall Poems 49:
Wi' a holy furious look, And steeked fist upo' the book.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1874) 284:
Wi' as muckle sense as a hen could haud in her steekit nieve.
Ayr. 1847 Ballads Ayr. (Paterson) II. 115:
Wi' steeket gauntlet Changue drew Ae stroke wi' sic prodigious strength.
Abd. 1872 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 156:
“I was offered twenty guineas for that ox” . . . “Ye should hae steekit your neive upo' that”.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 18:
Steek your neive on that.
Rnf. 1914 Sc. Nat. Readings (Forsyth) 53:
Wi' his ain braid steekit neive knocked twenty bobbies doon.
Abd. 1930 Abd. Univ. Rev. (July) 200:
Sae gowpenfu's may Fortune gie, Nae steekit neive.

(4) Fig.: to close the eyes so as not to see, in sleep, in death, by a blow, etc. (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 63; Uls. 1953 Traynor; Sh., ne.Sc., em.Sc., Dmb., Lnk., Dmf. 1971).Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 107:
Or when he lifts or steeks his Een.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 140:
The leaden God fa's heavy on their ein, And hafflins steeks them frae their daily toil.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry ps. vi.:
Sages their solemn een may steek.
Ags. 1815 G. Beattie Poems (1882) 176:
Stand aff, you fiend, and dread my wraith, Or soon I'll steek your eyne in death.
Edb. 1856 J. Ballantine Poems 11:
Frail auld men, knee-breekit, Wi' mumlin' tongues an' een half steekit.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
The hand of him aye cawed the shuttle, but his een was steeked.
Uls. 1900 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays xiv.:
Birds steek their een in wee neucks o' their ain.
Bnff. 1956 Banffshire Jnl. (21 Aug.):
I sit back in my auld airmcheir, steek my een.
ne.Sc. 1979 Alastair Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 63:
Lug to the cushion I steek my een
and let my cheek and shouther beek
in the cosmic ingle o the sun.
Fif. 1994 Nellie Watson in Joan Watson Memories and Reflections: An East Neuk Anthology 15:
Each efternin at half-past twa -
Ahent a braw scrap-screen
She'd sit intae her easy-chair
And there she'd steek her een.

Phr. steek-and-hide, -hod, -hud, also rarely hide-and-steek, the game of hide-and-seek, in which one player steeks or shuts his eyes while the rest conceal themselves (Abd. 1825 Jam.), though steek is doubtless orig. a corruption of seek.Abd. 1794 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 2) VI. 183:
Wizards, warlocks, elfin, fairies, Played steek and hide like cats and haries.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 56:
To play sae weel at hide an' steek wi' man.
Ags. 1893 Brechin Advertiser (16 May) 3:
Ye micht see the snails an' the nettercaps playin' steek an' hud.
Kcd. 1905 W. Macgillivray Rob Lindsay (1908) 29:
Playing at steek an' hod, tig, barley brack.
Fif. 1933 J. Ressich Thir Braw Days 53:
This game o' steek-an'-hide the seendykit an' Sam Kelty wis playin'.

(5) To shut (one's mouth), lit. and fig., keep silent, hold one's tongue (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ne. and em.Sc. (a), Dmb., Ayr., Dmf. 1971); also to reduce to silence, to make someone shut up (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 210).Sc. 1723 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 132:
These lips she ne'er should steek.
Ayr. 1787 Burns Ordination ix.:
Now Robertson harangue nae mair, But steek your gab for ever.
Per. c.1800 Lady Nairne Songs (1905) 234:
Oh, steek your mouth, then, cousin dear, And nae mair havers let us hear.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 50:
Opes the blate wooer's steekit mooth.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxix.:
I redd ye keep your mouth better steekit, if ye hope to speed.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) ii.:
I think that steekit their gabs!
Edb. 1841 Whistle-Binkie 53:
Danny with his rung steekin' ilka wizen.
Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs 200:
Keep your gab steekit when ye kenna your company.
Sc. 1896 Stevenson W. Hermiston v.:
The same way with him of steiking his mouth when he's no very pleased.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle ix.:
Can ye no steek your jaw, and let them dae the howlin' outside?
Slg. 1922 W. D. Cocker Poems 164:
I dreamed he [trout] would steek his gab On the hook o' my danglin' line.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 72:
' ... But we canna aye say this, we must steik oor gabs tae be wise, and dae oor day's darg and no challenge the kirk, or the state, or some o the prejudices and enthusiasms powerfu men hae. ... '

(6) Fig. to close (the ears or heart), to refuse to listen, to harden (one's heart or feelings).Edb. 1916 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxi. 13:
Wha steeks his lugs against the complents o' the puir.
Sc. 1930 Weekly Scotsman (25 Oct.) 10:
He steekit his hert as he leuch in her face.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Sc. Sangs 36:
We'll steek oor lugs tae Oxford R.

3. To stop up, block, obstruct (an opening, gap, etc.). Phr. a steeking slap, a gap in a wall or hedge which can be closed by a gate or barricade.Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 55:
The Muse maun also now implore Auld wives to steek ilk hole and bore.
Ags. 1774 Weekly Mag. (30 Dec.) 15:
When sturdy stacks are tightly theiket, And the wide style is fairly steiket.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Again Rejoicing v.:
The sheep-herd steeks his faulding slap.
Ayr. 1790 J. Fisher Poems 68:
Then cam' he to a steeking slap.

4. To stuff, pack, cram, fill to capacity; to make close or dense, esp. in phr. a staekid mist, -stumna, a dense thick mist or fog (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1971).Sh. 1830 Gentleman's Mag. II. 590:
Twa sukkalegs stikkit fu' o' whyte oo'.
Sh. 1862 Shetland Advertiser (3 Nov.):
Ta geng awa wee in a steekit mist ta luk fur da laand.
Sh. 1960 Shetland News (21 July):
Mist! . . . Yes, a staekid stumna.
Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin' 90:
Eatin' an' drinkin' o' the best til they fair steeked themsel's.
Sh. 1927 Shetland Times (23 April):
Wir sheeks steekid wi shocklats.
Sh. 1949 New Shetlander No. 14. 15:
Hae boy, steek dat a dee knev.
Sh. 1960 New Shetlander No. 54. 23:
A day o stekkit-mist.

5. To shut, close, make fast (a door, window, etc.) (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc., somewhat obsol., occas. with advs. to, up. Also fig.Sc. 1709 Invercauld Rec. (S.C.) 80:
Steiket and lockfast doors.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 76:
Steek the doors, keep out the frost.
Per. 1774 Gentleman and Lady's Weekly Mag. (8 June) 235:
Quoth the gudeman — an' parting stick'd the dore.
Sc. 1803 Edom o' Gordon in Child Ballads No. 178 H. v.:
“ Steik up, steik up my yett, ” she says.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel iii.:
When I have come hame ower late and faund the West Port steekit.
Ayr. 1823 Galt Ringan Gilhaize I. iv.:
The Lord has of late, by steeking the doors and windows of my earthly tabernacle, been admonishing me that the gloaming is come.
Rxb. 1826 A. Scott Poems 56:
My door steek't up, by some mischievous hand.
Clc. 1850 J. Crawford Doric Lays 18:
Gae steek the winnock, for danger I dree.
Sc. 1887 Stevenson Underwoods 123:
The kirk was filled, the door was steeked.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 78:
Steek to the hallan door.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 53:
Till aa da soonds o Nater caese, An dan shü steeks da door.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxvii.:
To be left ahint to steek the yetts.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier 205:
I juist put him oot o' my he'rt an' steekit the door.
Nai. 1927 G. Bain Dauvid Main 63:
I aye steeked the door ahin me.
Sc. 1965 Weekly Scotsman (4 March) 2:
Be ye sure tae steik the gate.
Uls. 1991:
I always like to steek the door.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web iii:
I sterted life as an artist at Gray's Schule o Art in Aiberdeen. Bit I niver cud catch the essence o the ferlies I ettled tae draw, sae the warld o the Artist wis steekit tae me. Nooadays, I peint in wirds.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 18:
Dinna bide in yon chaumer
Wi the wee, clorty winnock
At the tap o the hoose
Up the kypie stair
I tell ye, ye'll no ken yersel
Aince up in yon chaumer
An the door steekit efter ye.

6. intr. To come to, of a door, etc., to close on itself, shut.Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 76:
When ae door steeks anither opens.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
You ken a' that opens and steeks.
m.Sc. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 69:
Yet, howlet-like, my e'e-lids steek.
Abd. 1884 D. Grant Lays 20:
Made doors an' windows but an' ben, As fest as they cud steek.
Lnl. 1890 A. M. Bisset Spring Blossoms 27:
Ae sweet face an' form I see That keep my een frae steekin'.
Dmf. 1912 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo 73:
I heard the ooter door steek.
Abd. 1960 Abd. Ev. Express (26 Dec.):
Oor een niver steekit on a pillow.

II. n. A clasp, fastening (Abd., Kcd. 1971). Rare. Phr. aff the steek, see 1958 quot.m.Sc. 1915 J. Buchan Watcher by Threshold 61:
There's steeks on the windies.
ne.Sc. 1958 People's Jnl. (6 Dec.):
His bonnet was worn at an angle, over one ear and as often as not “aff the steek,” i.e. button clasp open and the cap pulled well back from the peak.

[O.Sc. steke, to block, obstruct, 1375, to exclude, to shut (a gate), to confine, a.1400, to close the eyes, 1423, to close on itself, c.1425, steikit neive, 1570, Early Mid.Eng. steke, to enclose, prob., acc. to N.E.D., the same word as Mid.Eng. steek, to stab, pierce (see Stick, v.), from the orig. notion of thrusting a door-bolt through a staple or the like. See also Steek, n.2, v.2]

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



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