Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)
WAG, v., n.1 Also wagg, wog (metri causa) (ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 31), woug (Cai. 1921 T.S.D.C., Cai. 1973). Sc. forms and usages. [wɑg, wg]
I. v. 1. In various usages now obs. in Eng.: (1) intr., of a leaf, plant, etc.: to move to and fro, to waver, shake (in the wind). Gen.Sc.; (2) tr. to cause to shake, to move to and fro; to brandish (a weapon). Gen.Sc.
(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 69:
Weak as a windlestrae, That wi' the wind e'er wagged on a brae. Ayr. 1785 Burns 3rd Ep. J. Lapraik ii.:
May the tapmost grain that wags Come to the sack. Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 22:
Heather-bells upo' the mountain's top Wag wi' the morning dew. Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 141:
We'll teach oor children to revere The land where wags the thistle. Per. 1910 W. Blair Kildermoch 118:
No' a breath o' wind, no' a branch nor a leaf o' a tree or a buss waggin'. Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 101:
Ilka stalk that waggt gied him a fricht. (2) Sc. 1806 Scott Health Lord Melville vii.:
While there's one Scottish hand that can wag a claymore, sir. Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 70:
Ye'll wagg the gully oure the dyke, An' dare them to come near ye. Sc. 1820 Blackwood Mag. (Nov.) 147:
The roof wags its remotest raft. s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St Matthew xi. 7:
What gaed ye out intill the wulderniss till see? ane reed wagget wi' the win'? Ags. 1880 J. E. Watt Poet. Sk. 33:
He scarcely had maucht left to wag his bit loom.
2. intr., gen. with advs. about, awa, on: to carry on, proceed, jog on (Sh., Ags., Per., Dmf. 1973).
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 232:
How hae ye been wagging through the warl' sinsyne? Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xx.:
Mair wark than he could well wag wi'. Rnf. 1873 J. Nicholson Tibbie's Garland 48:
Her wee legs sae weary! she scarce can wag alang. Kcb. 1898 T. Murray Frae the Heather 89:
I'll jist hae to wag on my lane. Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxii.:
We maan jist wag awa wi't an' gar't be deein, Glen.
3. tr. To beckon, signal to (a person), wave the hand, etc., to; in 1924 quot. to send (a message). Also intr. with at, (up)on (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Sh., n., em., wm.Sc., Rxb. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial.
Slg. 1717 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. (1927) 44:
Many of them waggs the people within the strand. s.Sc. 1838 Wilson's Tales of the Borders IV. 90:
“Jock,” cried I, wagging the boy in, “come here a minnit.” Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 50:
Whistle, cry or wag. Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 16:
There's the Captain ayont that hillock o' stanes waggin' upon 's. Rnf. 1878 Good Words 184:
He was a proud man when Lizzy Sharp wagget him first. Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
I wagged on him to come across the field to me. Kcd. 1900 W. MacGillivray Glengoyne I. 109:
Mary came to the door and ‘wagged' us in for tea. Slg. 1901 R. Buchanan Poems 172:
His maister cam' into the shop and wagged Tam ower to his bench. Lth. 1914 C. Slater Marget Pow 110:
He wagged on Hamlet to come away with him. Abd. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 48:
Wag me ae wird an' say ye lo'e. Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vi., xx.:
Waggin wi the torch …. They're waggin on's …. 'e Keeng waggit 'em in aboot tull 'im.
4. Combs.: (1) wag-at-the-wa, (i) an elf or goblin who was supposed to sit on the Cruik or fire-crane and swing it to and fro as an annoyance to the domestics and a premonition of bad luck to the household; (ii) also wag-at-e-wa(a), wag at a-, -i-, -y-, waggitawa, waggity-, wag o the wa (Dmf. 1930), an unencased pendulum clock, orig. with some wooden mechanism, of a kind made in Germany, and hung on a wall (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–23 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein). Gen.Sc. and n.Eng. dial. Also in reduced form waggie; (iii) see quot.; ¶(2) wag-pow, a head-shaker, one who disapproves by shaking his head, see Pow, n.1; (3) wag-tawse, a nick-name for a schoolmaster.
(1) (i) Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
The moon, she was at the latter-fa'; “Gang to your bed,” cry'd Wag-at-the-wa ', O! why do we wag the witch-nickit crook. s.Sc. c.1830 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 62:
The spectre Wag-at-the-wa', a species of the Scottish Brownie, generally presided over the affairs of the kitchen, and was also the family monitor, and the servants', particularly the kitchen-maids', constant tormentor. s.Sc. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 345:
The crook has always left the mark of the cross, that this potent spell may counteract the dreaded influence of Wag-at-the-Wa'. (ii) Lnk. 1858 G. Roy Generalship 55:
To take a fancy to a waggitawa clock. Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 273:
'Tis aften sae, on shiny days, Wi' waggies o' mair costly kind. Edb. 1876 J. Smith Archie and Bess 60:
The tick-tack o' the waggity-wa'. Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe xxi.:
The “wagaty-wa” gave warning for the midnight hour. Sh. 1898 J. Nicolson Aithstin' Hedder 39:
The old “wag at da wa'” had just tolled the eleventh hour. wm.Sc. 1903 S. Macplowter Mrs. McCraw 117:
She's gotten a tongue like a wag-at-i-wa'. Abd. 1920 C. Murray Country Places 22:
Chains hingin' doon like a wag-at-the wa'. Ags. 1922 V. Jacob Tales 6:
A ‘wag-at-the wa' clock with a gaudily-painted face. Kcb. 1941 Gallovidian 11:
When waggie nicht's late hour has chappit. Sc. 1972 Scotsman (2 Sept.) 6:
Most Scots would be more familiar with the description of Black Forest clocks as “wag-at-the-wa' clocks.” (iii) Abd.4 1933:
“That's nae wag-at-the wa'.” — (Said after a good substantial dinner.) (2) Sc. 1926 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 148:
But the lad she would hae, for she caredna a strae For a wheen auld wag-pows' din. (3) Rxb. 1859 Bards of Border (Watson) 107:
Wagtawse rose sune that mornynge.
II. n. 1. (1) A signal or gesture with the hand made to attract attention or summon a person (ne., em. and wm.Sc. 1973).
Rnf. 1838 Whistle-Binkie 15:
He was unco obliging, and cam at my wag. Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 205:
Gee a hoy an' a wag t' the loon t' fess haim the nout. Lnk. 1897 J. Wright Sc. Life 33:
I gied Wull a wag an' slippet a bawbee into his hand.
(2) Phr. a wag o the pen, the least scrap of writing, a brief letter. Cf. Scrape, n., 1.
ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 97:
It's sax months sin' I had a wag o' a pen frae either Glaisgo' or Liverpool.
2. Dim. waggie : (1) see I. 4. (1) (ii); (2) also in form waggitie (Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 274; Ags., Per. 1973), the pied wagtail, Motacilla alba (e.Lth. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 43; Fif., Lth., Lnk., s.Sc. 1973). Also in n.Eng. dial. See also Water; ¶(3) a cow's tail, in children's riddle.
(3) Abd. 1912 Rymour Club Misc. II. 21:
Twa leatherin cloots, and a waggie.
3. (1) As in Eng. a droll or tricky person. Comb. ¶wag-wit, a witty jesting fellow; ¶(2) in pl.: tricks, mischievous behaviour; (3) phr. to tak the wa o, to mock, make fun of.
(1) Ayr. 1786 Burns Brigs of Ayr 183–4:
In Ayr, wag-wits nae mair can hae a handle To mouth ‘a Citizen', a term o' scandal. (2) Rnf. 1835 D. Webster Rhymes 115:
When wailing the wags o' the washerwife's son. He drinks and he swears, he revels and rants. (3) Bnff. 1967 Bnff. Advertiser (13 Apr.) 3:
I think ee're jist takkin' the wag o' me an' ma photies.
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"Wag v., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 26 Jul 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/wag_v_n1>
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