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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.

TAG, n., v. Also tagg (Sc. 1808 Jam.); taig- (Fif. 1825 Jam., s.v. Taigie), tague; ¶tig. Sc. usages. [tɑg, †teg]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., any strip of material loosely attached to something else, a flap, string, tab, etc. Sc. phr., combs., and deriv.: (1) a tague for the tongue, -for tongueing, an interminable talker, a gossip, a chatterbox (Fif. c.1850 Peattie MS.); (2) tag-fettle, a piece of cord attached in a loop to the head of a fish-hook and loosely tied to the line (Ork. 1929 Marw.). See Fettle, n.2; (3) taggowy, adj., tattered, ragged (Ork. 1929 Marw.); (4) tagsy, untidily dressed, unkempt (Ork. 1972); (5) tag-tailed, ¶tig-, ragged; of a woman whose petticoat trails: draggle-tailed (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., tig-).(1) Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 28, 87:
The Gairner's wife an' Mysie Meldrum are twa awfu' tagues for the tongue. . . . She was aye an awfu' tague for tonguein'.
(5) Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 47:
A's tag-tailed set, wi' a' their trantlums.

2. Specif. A perforated leather strap made to engage with a buckle on a shoe, in saddlery, etc., a shoe- or buckle-strap (Sc. 1787 J. Beattie Scoticisms 90, 1808 Jam.).Sc. 1700 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 280:
3 tags for husin girths . . . 2 sh.
Abd. 1795 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 268:
For a neu cover to my saidle and for taggs, girds, &c. to it.

3. As in Eng., the tip of an animal's tail. Sc. deriv. and comb.: (1) taggie, taigie, teagie, tygie, adj., of a cow: having a white tip to its tail (Mry., wm.Sc. 1825 Jam.); n., a pet-name given to such a cow; (2) tag-tailed, id.(1) Sc. 1761 Magopico 31:
Had Taggie by the tail, says the proverb, ne'er quat certainty for hope.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 124:
Whare was Rob an' Peggy But i' the byre 'side Teagie.
Dmb. 1889 in D. Macleod Poet. Lennox 229:
In Campsie the thief frae Duncan M'Kynnie Had stolen twa kye, a taggie and black.
(2) Bwk. 1733 Caled. Mercury (25 Jan.):
Strayed from Ayton . . . a small, black, West country Cow, is young, and should be with Calf. She is Crommie-headed, . . . white belly'd, and Tag-tail'd.

4. A long, thin strip or slice of flesh or tissue. Phr. a tag o' skate, a slice of skate hung up to dry in the sun (Sc. 1808 Jam.: Sh. 1972).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 193:
I wish it may come through you like tags of scate.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 10:
When Hair drops off, and Bones corrupt and bare, Through ulcerated Tags of Muscles Stare.
Clc. 1850 J. Crawford Doric Lays 52:
The icy tags that hing About our wallow't hearts.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (9 March):
A tag o' hard skate fir ta denner.

5. The leather strap used for punishment in schools (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 189; ne.Sc., Ags. 1972); one of the thongs of this. Dim. taggie.Abd. 1809 Session Papers, Saltoun v. Bannerman (22 May) App. 8:
Mr Bannerman led her along towards the school, whipping her with his tag.
ne.Sc. 1874 W. Gregor Olden Time 53:
Punishment on the hands with a tag.
Mry. 1887 J. Thomson Speyside Par. 81:
“The muckle tag” was a ponderous strap of leather about two feet in length, with one end cut into fingers two or three inches long. “The little tag” lay all day upon the top of the desk, ready at any moment.
Per. 1898 C. Spence Poems 198:
Lumps o' his lugs, like tags of tawse.
Ags. 1920 D. H. Edwards Muirside 213:
The tawse (or tags) was always in evidence.
Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 64:
The taggie never fashed 'im neen, he ne'er loot on 'twis sair.

6. A skinny worn-out horse, an old nag (Abd. 1911 Abd. Wkly. Jnl. (31 March); Bnff., Abd. 1972).

7. A fault in cloth caused by an error in weaving, producing a hole where there should be pattern, also tag-hole (Slg., Fif., Ayr. 1972).

8. Tiring, troublesome labour, “the drag,” “a bind” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), freq. in phr. to be in the tag, to be oppressed with hard work (ne.Sc. 1972). Also in Ir. Cf. II. 3.Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 92:
Ye wis aye i' the tag fin idder fowk wis at leesure to enjoy themsel's.

II. v. 1. To tie, to bind (Sc. 1825 Jam.). Obs. in Eng.

2. To beat with a tawse (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 189; ne.Sc. 1972). Hence taggan, vbl.n. (Id.).

3. To oppress by hard labour. Hence taggan, vbl.n., taggit, pa.p.Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 189:
Gehn they wir weel taggit wee wark, they widd be glaid t' win t' thir beds seen.

4. Of the moon: to wane (Peb. 1825 Jam.).s.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 216:
It is said by the peasantry, that the Michaelmas moon never tags.

5. As in †Eng., to hang down or trail like a tag. Deriv. taggans, rags (Ork., Cai. 1972).

6. To urinate (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 211).

[O.Sc. tag, strip of cloth, c.1500, leather strap, 1507, tagie, of a cow, 1597.]

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"Tag n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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