Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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TACK, n.2 Also tak (Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Waifs 80). [tɑk]

1. A lease, tenancy, esp. the leasehold tenure of a farm, mill, mining or fishing rights, tax- or toll-collecting, etc. (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 222, 1808 Jam., 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 66; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Peb. 1951; Ork., n., m. and s.Sc. 1972); the period of a lease, the contract or document of a lease. Also fig. Edb. 1701  Burgh Rec. Edb. (1967) 2:
The present tack of the customes and forraigne excyse.
Sc. 1705  W. Forbes Treatise Ch. Lands 310:
Tacks may not only be set of Lands, but also of Tithes, or anything that is useful, or yields Profit.
m.Lth. 1712  J. Monro Letters (1722) 48:
Has he not given you a long Tack of nearness to God?
Inv. 1726  Inv. Session Rec. (Mitchell 1902) 267:
To leave the said Dykes, Ditches, & Hedges, in good Repair at the Ish of this Tack.
Sc. 1773  Weekly Mag. (1 April) 31:
A new tack is signed and settled with Mr. Digges, of the patent of the theatre-royal.
Ayr. 1790  Burns To a Gentleman 14:
Or Poland, wha had now the tack o't.
Sc. 1819  Scott Bride of Lamm. xxiv.:
Liferent tacks of our bits o' houses and yards.
Slk. 1823  Hogg Shep. Cal. (1874) i.:
I would throw their tacks in their teeth.
Sc. 1886  Act 49 & 50 Vict. c.50 § 3:
“Lease” shall include tack and set, and shall apply to any lease, tack, or set, whether constituted by writing or verbally, or by tacit relocation.
Kcd. 1889  J. & W. Clark Musings 51:
Indeed, it was against my will I signed my tack.
Dmf. 1891  J. Brown Hist. Sanquhar 333:
Steps were at once taken to put an end to the arrangements under which the various tenants held their farms. This was what was called among the people of the district ‘the breaking of the tacks.'
Abd. 1909  C. Murray Hamewith 26:
When a handy tack ran oot his offer was the best.
Arg. 1914  N. Munro New Road xxxi.:
He was tenant of Drimdorran House, with a five years' tack from Paul.
Ags. 1959  Forfar Dispatch (31 Dec.):
Weel, h'ye tien a tak ee place?

2. In a concrete sense: a farm or piece of land held on lease (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., tak(e); Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Fif., w.Lth., Wgt. 1972). Freq. in n.Sc. in dim. form tackie. Phr. a tack of land, id. ne.Sc. 1745  S.C. Misc. (1841) 414:
Widow wimen that hase tacks in my intrest.
Sc. 1750  W. Macfarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) I. 116:
None professing Popery had so much as a Tack of Land or Dwelling in all his Inheritance.
Abd. 1824  G. Smith Douglas 36:
[I] gaed to the north, and took a muckle tack.
ne.Sc. 1884  D. Grant Lays 31:
His forebears had a tackie ance Upo' the Burn o' Cattie.
Sh. 1886  J. Burgess Sketches 17:
If doo wirks hard ipo yon tack o' Pettister doo'll be able to mak a good livin'.
Ags. 1920  D. H. Edwards Muirside 2:
Twenty very primitive, though comfortable holdings or “tackies”.
Uls. 1929  M. Mulcaghey Rhymes 55:
I have a nice wee cottar tack, Not forty miles from Killybrack.
Sc. 1949  Scots Mag. (Dec.) 217:
The best tack of Eilean Duine was then held by Colin M'Iver.

3. An agreement, compact, bargain, in gen.; hence by extension, a post, situation, a steady job (Uls. 1929). Wgt. 1718  Session Rec. Whithorn MS. (5 Jan.):
The beddal had come't under tack to keep the toun clock.
Sc. 1724  Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 100:
For I've a tinkler under tack That's used to clout my caldron.
Ayr. 1786  Burns Earnest Cry vi.:
In gath'rin votes you were na slack; Now stand as tightly by your tack.

4. Fig. A specific period of time, e.g. a “lease” of life, a spell of weather, a stretch (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Per., Lth. 1972). Sc. 1728  Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 20:
Waes me! o'er short a Tack of sic is given.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 106:
His bairns a' before the flood Had langer tack o' flesh and blood.
Kcb. 1810  R. Cromek Remains 50:
Frae sunlight till sunset's a dreigh tack o' care.
Ayr. 1821  Galt Annals xii.:
After a tack of wet weather.
Ags. 1855  Arbroath Guide (11 Aug.) 3:
They'll get a new tack o' repose.
Sc. 1862  A. Hislop Proverbs 232:
Nae man has a tack o' his life.
Ork. 1880  Dennison Sketch-Bk. 24:
Sheu hed a lang tack o' life.
Fif. 1909  J. C. Craig Sangs o' Bairns 104:
Jock Macelly played the “skech” For three weeks at a tack.
Abd. 1920  D. Rorie Auld Doctor 44:
Awyte, but noo she's fu' o' life She's ta'en anither tack o't!

5. Phr. and Combs.: (1) in tack (and assedation), on lease, on leasehold terms. See also Assedation: (2) subtack, a lease from one who is himself a tenant, a subordinate lease. Hence sub-tacksman, a sub-tenant; (3) tack-duty, duty payable on land held in leasehold; rent paid by a farmer of customs (Ork. 1972); (4) tack-house, a farm-house, tacksman's house; (5) tacksman, tax-, (i) one who holds a tack, a tenant or lessee (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 177, 1808 Jam.; Mry., Bnff. 1972), still used of a lessee of coastal salmon fishings (Kcd. 1972); (ii) in the Highlands: a chief tenant, often a relative of the landowner, who leased land directly from him and sublet it to lesser tenants (see 1773 quot.). Now only hist.; (6) tacks-woman, a female tenant or lessee. (1) Sc. 1701  E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1866) 134:
The Lords Commissioners Setts, and, in tack and assedation, letts [the excise duty].
Sc. 1710  R. Sibbald Hist. Fife (1803) 233:
The whole village of Falkland, shall be set in tack, for such a ferm.
Sc. 1751  W. Macfarlane Geneal. Coll. (S.H.S.) II. 494:
The Davoch Land which they had in Tack and Assidation of Sir David Grahame.
Ayr. 1789  D. Sillar Poems 200:
Life is a lease we've got in tack.
(2) Sc. 1733  P. Lindsay Interest Scot. 213:
The Sub-tacksman of this Duty.
Sc. 1743  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 136:
The terms of the subtacks to be granted to the heretors.
Sc. 1773  Erskine Institute ii. vi. § 34:
A sub-tack requires the same solemnities as a principal tack; and it is as effectual, if it be followed by possession, to defend the sub-tacksmen against singular successors.
(3) Sc. 1702  T. Morer Acct. Scotland 147:
The Tack-Duty of his Majesty's Rents in Orkney and Zethland is Yearly ¥2000.
Sc. 1778  J. Kennedy Annals Abd. I. 323:
Feu, Teind and Tack Duties of Lands and Fishings.
Ork. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XVI. 427:
These lands are set in tack for a yearly tack-duty.
Arg. 1878  Trans. Highl. Soc. 84:
Long leases of ninety-nine years were offered to any one who would undertake to erect a house according to his plan for a nominal tack duty.
Abd. 1951  Press and Jnl. (10 Oct.):
Feu-duties and Tack-duty for sale. Tack-duty of ¥20 gross (subject to Over-Tack-duty of ¥7 2s 6d.).
Dmf. 1957  Dmf. & Gall. Standard (14 Dec.):
Tack duty — 13 Townhead Street, 5s 3d.
(4) Arg. 1898  N. Munro J. Splendid xxiii.:
We were never near this tack-house before.
(5) (i) Sc. 1701  E. D. Dunbar Social Life (1866) 136:
To maintain, fortifie and defend the said taxman in the peaceable collecting, intromitting with, and uplifting of the forsaid dewties of excise.
Gsw. 1739  Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1911) 23:
The tacksmen are to take the multure of the malt at the milln in ruch malt before it be grinded.
Edb. 1773  Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 140:
Tacksman an' cottar eke to bed maun steer.
Dmf. 1794  B. Johnston Agric. Dmf. 89:
The whole eighth part of the produce of a corn farm, every year, must be paid to the proprietor or tacksman of the miln.
Ork. 1806  P. Neill Tour 65:
Lord Dundas, as donatory of the Crown, and as tacksman of the bishoprick of Orkney.
Ayr. 1821  Galt Provost xv.:
Thomas Shovel, the tacksman of the Whinstone-quarry.
Bwk. 1845  Stat. Acc.2 II. 210:
The salmon fisheries have afforded a very small recompense to the different tacksmen.
Sc. 1862  Session Cases (1861–2) 1345:
An agreement between the tacksman of the teinds and the heritor of the lands.
Bnff. 1902  Banffshire Herald (9 Aug.):
Mr William Allan, Tacksman of Market Customs.
ne.Sc. 1921  Swatches o' Hamespun 10:
Ae geyan grippy aul' tacksmin files set 'im tae wusp and winle strae.
(ii) Sc. 1737  Crofters' Comm. Report 1884) App. A. 387:
The small tennents, whose rents were already stretched by the late taxmen as high as they could well bear.
Sc. 1753  Scots Mag. (March) 131:
The pannel wss in possession of a farm in the estate of Ardsheil called Glenduror, and was tacksman of another called Lettermore, which he had subset for about 70 l. Scots a-year.
Sc. 1773  S. Johnson Journey 196:
Next in dignity to the Laird is the Tacksman; a large taker or leaseholder of land, of which he keeps part, as a domain in his own hand, and lets part to under-tenants. The Tacksman is necessarily a man capable of securing to the Laird the whole rent, and is commonly a collateral relation. These tacks, or subordinate possessions, were long considered hereditary, and the occupant was distinguished with the name of the place at which he resided. This tenure still subsists.
Arg. 1795  Stat. Acc.1 XIX. 323:
By tacksmen is understood such as lease one or more farms; and by tenants, such as rent only an half, a fourth, or an eighth of a farm.
Sc. 1814  Scott Waverley xx.:
Wadsetters and tacksmen, as they were called, who occupied portions of his estate as mortgagers or lessees.
Sc. 1831  J. Logan Sc. Gael (1876) I. 176:
The Tacksman or Goodman, were acknowledged relatives of the Laird, and held portions of land suitable to their consequence.
Inv. 1872  Trans. Highl. Soc. 15:
In the Western Isles there is a great gap between the tacksmen, or large holders, and the crofters.
Sc. 1885  Blackwood's Mag. (July) 93:
The original tacksman class is now almost extinct. The era of large sheep-farms set in: the Lowland capitalist could give four times the rent that had been paid by the comparatively poor gentleman; and the tacksmen left the country in large numbers, many of them settling in America.
Arg. 1957  W. R. Kermack Sc. Highlands 150:
About 1730–40 the tacksman system (and with it the practice of cultivation in “run-rig”) was deliberately abolished in Kintyre.
(6) Sc. 1755  Morison Decisions 15286:
The point now to be determined is shortly, whether or not the marriage of the tackswoman be a contravention sufficient to irritate her right.

[O.Sc. tak, lease, tenancy, 1392, a farm , 1439, an extended usage of Tak, n., a taking, tacksman, 1492, -woman, 1576, tack-dewty, 1628. North. Mid.Eng. has take, a farm-lease. Cf. also O.N. taka, taking, revenue, tenure of land.]

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"Tack n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jan 2020 <>



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