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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STICK, v., n.1 Also stikk (Sh.); steek. Sc. forms and usages:

I. v. A. Forms. Pa.t. strong: stack (Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 376; Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam o' Shanter 140; Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxvi.; Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 15; e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 152; Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 61; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 268; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; ne.Sc. 1971); stak (Slk. 1810 Hogg Poems (1865) 276; Ags. 1814 J. Ross Poems 102, Ags. 1945 Scots Mag. (April) 47); stuck (Gen.Sc.); weak: stickit, sticked (Sc. 1818 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiii.). Pa.p. strong: stucken (Abd. 1836 J. Grant Tales of Glens 60; Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages I. viii.; Abd. 1918 C. Murray Sough o' War 47; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Sh. 1969 New Shetlander No. 89. 9; Sh., ne., m.Sc. 1971), stukken; stuckin (Abd. 1958 People's Jnl. (11 Jan.)); stickin (m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 53); stuck (Gen.Sc.), stack (Gall. 1881 J. K. Scott Gleanings 62); weak: sticket (Peb. 1838 W. Welsh Poems 19; em.Sc. 1926 H. Hendry Poems 87), -it (Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 268), stickid, stikkid (Sh. 1899 Shetland News (5 Aug.)); erron. stuked. Sc. forms of Eng. stuck pa.p. Strong and weak forms are sometimes differentiated according to meaning. See 1996 Mark Price in Sandy Stronach New Wirds: An Anthology of Winning Poems and Stories from the Doric Writing Competitions of 1994 and 1995 14:
Hiv ye iver seen their vegieburgers?
Rooshtie crumbs stucken on til a layer o tatties.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 4:
O a suddenty, the back wheel o the tractor laired in the dubby sheugh aside the burn an furled roon, spirkin glaur in ilkie airt. Deeper an deeper it sank, fair stukken, held ticht in the rut o the sappy grun.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 8:
(Davie's faither wis a larry driver an aince in an awfa nicht o blindrift an hailsteens as big as fitbas he'd stukken jist ooto Knockandhu an taen an ill-will at the place sinsyne: "No can do at Knockandhu," he aye said.)
Arg. 1998 Angus Martin The Song of the Quern 56:
'Some wan in time that's yit tae be
wil fin whit I hae writ,' said he;
but when he pu'd the heft back oot
the not wis stickit fast on't.

B. Usages. 1. (1) To stab, to thrust a knife or sword into, freq. in reference to the slaughter of animals, to finish off, “do for”. Gen.Sc. Now only dial. in Eng. Pa.t., pa.p. stickit. Hence sticker, a stabber, slaughterer, comb. flea-sticker. Phrs. deal stick it, used imprecatively as a strong neg. in the deil sticket a . . ., devil a . . ., not a damned . . . See Deil, n., II. 2. (6); sticky-knife [ < stick-the-knife], the game of knifie (see Knife).Sc. 1713 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) II. 154:
In a litle time you shall be brought into this very Church, like a sticked sou!
Rnf. 1721 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1878) 118:
The Defender was seen with a bloody knife in his hand neer and at the tyme the horse lyballed was stuked [sic].
Sc. 1730 W. Forbes Institutes II. 150:
Stickers or Fellers of Horses or Oxen in Time of leading Corns or Fuel.
Abd. 1733 W. Forbes Dominie Depos'd (1765) 29:
To draw a weapon at the last. That sticks Mess John.
Slg. 1804 G. Galloway Luncarty 55:
You nasty brute, at measuring ye're a bumbler; Ye flae-sticker!
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf ii.:
Ellieslaw's friend stickit your sire after the laird himsell had mastered his sword.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 232:
Was he cut? Had he sticked or wounded himself?
Rnf. 1831 Trial N. Turner 8, 11:
He felt himself wounded and sung out he was stuck . . . Gillies cried out that he was sticket.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 123:
Mony a bonnie blinkin' quean By me's been sticket.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 15:
He wad hae stickid Mansie wi' his swird.
Kcb. 1897 Crockett Lochinvar xxviii.:
It will be safer to stick him with a gully-knife.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 67:
Dey managed to secure da pok, wi' da aid o' da sticker.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 162:
To squeal like swine That they stack whan they were able.
Fif. 1911 Rymour Club Misc. II. 137:
“We'll stick the bairn i' the cradle,” Says the fause nourrice to him.
Dmf. 1915 D. J. Beattie Oor Gate-En' 7:
“Heavy weight”, “sticky-knife”, an' other sic games.
Abd. 1966 Huntly Express (10 June) 2:
He threatened tae stick 'im wi' a lang knife.
m.Sc. 1991 William Neill in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 48:
The Dirkanglavies lowpit oot,
wi dirk an sgian du,
an hackit him frae craig tae fuit
an stickit him richt thro.

(2) To thrust a spade straight down into the ground. In vbl.n. sticking, deriv. stichling, a turf or peat cut perpendicularly by the digger standing on the surface of the bank (Rnf. c.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) S.153, stichling).Abd. 1770 Session Papers, Gordon v. Gordon (7 March) 7:
He took the Stickings of the Banks, that is, he cut the Surface above the Moss, where he was to cast Peats into Sods, with his Foot-spade, laid by the same, and led them home with his Peats.

2. Of a horned animal: to gore, stab or butt with its horns (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Lnk., Kcb., Rxb. 1971). Now dial. in Eng.Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 9:
She rins ay thro' the byre, and sticks a' the bits a couties.
Abd. 1832 W. Scott Poems 25:
Ye look as thrawart as a sticken' cow.
Fif. 1864 St Andrews Gazette (20 Feb.):
The red-an'-white bull steekit the herd laddie within an inch o' his life.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 114:
The yill-cup, the gill-stoup, Flee, like a sticking bull.
Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 21:
Dinna gang nerr yon reed bull; ei steekeet a callant.
Abd.4 1930:
Fat are ye stannin roarin like a stickin bull for?

3. In sorting fishing-lines before baiting: to turn each hook back into the horse-hair of its Snuid to prevent its entangling the line (Ags. 1971). Also with in.Fif. 1950 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 371:
To get his line “stickit” — that is, redd-up and the hooks all clear.
Bnff. 1959 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 107:
The technique of sticking in is to hold the hook by the shank, bending the pliable tippet into a loop and sticking the point of the hook in amongst the horse-hairs, where it remains immobilised until baiting time.
Sc. 1969 Scottish Studies XIII. 8:
It was a “South Folk” practice to “stick the hooks” at sea but the “North Folk” always did this ashore.

4. To bring to a stand, to non-plus. Also in colloq. Eng.Sc. a.1925 R. Thomas Sandie McWhustler's Waddin' 79:
Says I, as crouse ye like, than stoppit. I was fair stickit.

5. tr. To come to a premature halt in (whatever one is doing), to break down in the middle of (a job), to be unable to carry on (a piece of work. a speech, etc.), to bungle, botch (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 25, 1812 W. Angus Eng. Grammar 344; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 438; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per., Kcb. 1971). Also intr. to break down, fail, give up, freq. of a horse jibbing. Pa.t., pa.p. sticket, now more commonly stuck (see below).Sc. c.1700 A. Pennecuik Coll. Sc. Poems (1762) 34:
A comely Body and a Face Would make a Domine stick the Grace.
Sc. 1708 Fountainhall Decisions (1759) II. 447:
He had given him a box on the ear when he sticked his work.
Sc. 1730 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 161:
He really sticked a sermon in Ireland; that is, his matter quite failed him, and he was oblidged to give over.
Rnf. 1813 E. Picken Poems II. 118:
In short, nae ill was e'er sae wickit, That John the cure o't ever stickit.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 241:
He does everything by the book: he ploughs, and sows, and brews his strong ale by the book — but he sticks them all.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xv.:
The warst stibbler that ever stickit a sermon.
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 239:
I held on with vigour, taking care never to stick a tune because I went wrong on it.
Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket 64:
[He] learned a few of the newest tunes, and among others, Devizes, which he was sure he could not stick.
Fif. 1882 S. Tytler Sc. Marriages III. xii.:
Better ye had sticket afore ye entered the poopet.
Ags. 1894 A. Reid Songs 48:
Dream a' the nicht o' the sang I hae stickit.

Freq. in ppl.adjs. (1) stickin(g), †sticken, stiff and unsocial in manner, unwilling to join in, obstinate, stubborn (Uls. 1886 Patterson Gl., 1953 Traynor; m.Sc. 1971); (2) stickit, -et, -ed, (i) of a task: botched, bungled, left spoilt or incomplete (Per. 1971): (ii) of plants or persons: stunted, checked in growth (Cai., Per. 1971); (iii) of persons; halted in their trade or profession, failed, insufficiently qualified, unsuccessful. Gen.Sc., obsol.; (iv) obstinate. Cf. stockit s.v. Stock, v., 1.; (3) stuck, = (2). Gen.Sc.(1) Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 66:
You're ay fu' keen to hear their news, — Guidsooth, you're no' that sticken.
Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 106:
Ye'll never be sae stickin' wi' an aul' neebor.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 24:
He was a stickin' chield, that factor.
Ags. 1914 I. Bell Country Clash 40:
I often wonder at Saunders bein' sae Stickin'.
(2) (i) Gsw. 1778 Gsw. Past and Present (1884) I. 412:
This general rule was not strictly enforced in the case of a ball dress or expensive silk bonnet, there being some risk of these valuable articles being sticked, if the misses made them themselves.
Edb. 1792 W. Creech Fugitive Pieces (1815) 348–9:
There was bread to eat in the Land of Cakes, which was more than the French could boast of by their new reform, and which every person would allow had been but a sticked batch at best.
Sc. 1808 Jam.:
A stickit coat, a coat so made as not to fit the wearer.
Sc. 1819 Scott Bride of Lamm. xxxv.:
I'll uphaud it for nae stickit' job.
Sc. 1826 Scots Mag. (May) 569:
Scotch lawyers do not require to be told how much this was a “sticked taillie”, or, Anglice, a blundered deed of Entail.
Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan II. vii.:
To finish Dominie Milligan's sticket sermon on the pomegranate.
Per. 1965 Perthshire Advert. (29 May) 14:
“Sticket” tapestries and seldom-lifted embroideries.
(ii) Sc. 1809 Farmer's Mag. (Aug.) 400:
A sticked crop of turnips always make a good fallow.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie viii.:
Tho' cruikit, wee buikit, an' sticket, He's no very easily licket.
Cai. 1918 Trans. Highl. Soc. XXX. 381:
“Sticked” turnips showed that the “fly” or turnip beetle had perforated the leaves.
(iii) Peb. 1793 R. D. C. Brown Comic Poems (1817) 128:
And lean, dun Joe; and Davy daft, The sticket-wabster-chiel.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. ii.:
He became totally incapable of proceeding in his intended discourse, and was ever after designated as a “stickit minister.”
Slk. 1820 Hogg Tales (1874) 241:
I canna get her keepit a minute, for that stickit shopkeeper.
Sc. 1838 Chambers's Jnl. (29 Dec.) 388:
The propriety of marrying the sticket precentor.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb ix.:
Changing his mind and turning out a kind of “sticket doctor.”
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Stickit Minister 9:
Once Student of Divinity at Edinburgh College, whom three parishes knew as “The Stickit Minister.”
Fif. 1899 S. Tytler Miss Nanse xiii,:
But is there not such a contradiction as a “sticket” auld maid?
Nai. 1927 G. Bain Dauvid Main 13:
Had it been the minister or an elder, or even a lawvier, but a stickit schoolmaster.
Sc. 1950 L. J. Saunders Sc. Democracy 350:
The “stickit minister” who could not get a charge was not indeed a completely legendary figure.
Sc. 1988 Scotsman (14 Dec) 10:
Our Presbyterian system is groaning, cracking and faltering at every step, and in this it has much in common with the Tory Party in Scotland. "Politics makes strange bedfellows" - none stranger than a righteous rump of clergy with a few stickit Tories.
Sc. 1989 Christopher Harvie in Joy Hendry Chapman 55-6 85:
In his youth as a stickit minister he had been coached in elocution by Alastair Sim.
Ags. 1990s:
Stickit student: one who has failed his exams.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 165:
'A mark like a horseshoe.'
'Correct. Weir helped to find James Mitchel work as a chaplain on at least one occasion. What is the Scots term for a clergyman who fails to find employment?'
'Stickit. A stickit minister.'
(iv) Ork. 1952 R. T. Johnston Stenwick Days (1984) 39:
"Dinno be so stickit, boy," snapped Chessie. "Cheust thoo dae as Veronica says, an' go an' mak' id up. Tellan the lass shae wur fat indeed. I niver heard the like. Shae's no fat."
Sh. 1968 New Shetlander No. 87. 7:
Maggie wis in a sticket möd.
(3) Ags. 1875 Brechin Advert. (20 April) 4:
I fear it will be a stuck job afore lang.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 137:
The critics! lowse win's blaw them far! Stuck poets — deil haet else they are.
Sc. 1910 D. W. Bone Brassbounder 3:
Afraid to be called “stuck sailors.”

6. In combs. with preps. and advs.: (1) stick at, to beach a boat (Sh., Ork. 1971); (2) stick in, intr. or tr. with tae, occas. wi: to persist doggedly in some activity, to work hard, slog, persevere, to “go” energetically (at). Gen.Sc.; (3) stick tee, to adhere, keep close (Sh., Abd. 1971); (4) stick up to or til, (i) to stand up to, to oppose defiantly. Gen.Sc. Rare or colloq. in Eng.; (ii) to pay court to, pay one's addresses to, ingratiate oneself with, usu. of a lover, but occas. in a more gen. application (Abd. 1971). Also in Eng. dial.(1) Sh. 1947 New Shetlander No. 4. 2:
To stick at is to draw the boat so far out of the sea that it is safe temporarily.
Sh. 1952 Robertson & Graham Grammar 31:
Whin we wan ta da beach I stack da boat at.
(2) Gsw. 1849 Justiciary Reports (1853) 212:
He said when he went forward, “stick in Vance.”
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 48:
For nae ane stuck in half sae teuch.
Sc. 1873 Stevenson Letters (1899) I. 59:
I have been sticking in to Walt Whitman.
Cai. 1884 Crofters' Comm. Evidence III. 2426:
The daughters, to keep a home for the aged mother, pluckily stuck in.
Lnk. 1895 W. Fraser Whaups of Durley vi.:
Stick in wi' your lessons.
Gsw. 1910 H. Maclaine My Frien' 101:
Stick intae the nicht schule.
Abd. 1944 C. Gavin Mountain of Light iii. v.:
I hope they stick in.
Abd. 1967 Huntly Exp. (10 March) 2:
It's stickin' in tae the frost evnoo.
(3) Abd. 1920 R. H. Calder Gleanings I. 8:
A' the birdies in the air Stick tee to my tail.
(4) (i) Sc. 1843 N. Macleod Crack aboot Kirk i. 2:
I am no fit to argue wi' the Dominie, tho' I carena about stickin' up tae Will.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick viii.:
Wisn 'e like tae fire Fittie fin we stack up tull 'im?

(ii) Abd. 1780 in Ellis E.E.P. V. 775: Shanks had taen Betty Gray to the Halloween ball afore that and Breece stack up till her.Abd. 1852 A. Robb Poems 109:
She discarded poor Jock, an' stack up to this dandy.
Abd. 1891 Bon-Accord (14 Nov.) 23:
[He] had better make up his mind which of the fair maids he means to stick up to.

II. n. 1. A stoppage, breakdown, standstill, non-plus (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Sh. 1971); a botch, bungle (Id.); an obstacle, hindrance. Obs. in Eng.Fif. 1866 St Andrews Gazette (20 Oct.):
His affair seems “a stick in the launch.”
Sc. 1889 Stevenson M. of Ballantrae viii.:
A strange thing that I should be at a stick for a date.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona ii.:
That should be no stick to you.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xii.:
His mind was at a stick.

2. A fit of sulks or obstinacy, the huff, esp. in phr. to tak the stick. Ork. 1970 Private MS.:
Sheu teuk the stick and widna attend the kirk.

[O.Sc. steke, to stab, 1375, styk, id., 1420, stikkar, a slaughterman, 1587.]

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"Stick v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



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