Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WASE, n. Also waese, wease, weass; weese, weeze, weyse; and I.Sc. forms wasi (Jak.), wassie, wazzie, -y, wizzi(e) (Sh.), wazz (Cai.). Dim. forms wassock, wussuck. [we:z, wi:z, I.Sc. ′wɑzi, Cai. wɑ:z]

1. A bundle or bottle of straw, esp. for thatching (Kcd. 1825 Jam., waese; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), wasi; Kcd. 1973). Also in Eng. dial. Comb. thack-weyse, id. (Bnff. 1973). See Thack, n., 3. (17); in gen., a tuft, tussock, wisp (Abd. 1973, wuss(ock)); a tangle (Ib.). Abd. 1764 A. A. Cormack Education in 18th C. (1965) 39:
To 41 Weases at three halfpence per Wease . . . ¥3.0.0.
Kcd. 1778–87 Redmire Church Acct. MSS.:
To 100 Weases of straw . . 10s 8d. To 50 Weases of straw . . 8s 4d.
Kcd. 1825 Jam.:
A distinction is made between a waese and a wisp of straw; the waese being larger, and generally made of wheat straw, regularly drawn lengthways for the purpose of thatching houses, etc., whereas the wisp is made up in a confused manner, of any kind of straw, and used as litter for horses, etc.
Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 17:
Lay some weyses o' thack strae on my house.
Kcd. 1930:
The [fishing-] line was in a sair wease and needit a hantle of patience to get it redd.

2. A circular band of straw: (1) worn to relieve the pressure when carrying heavy burdens on the head (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 463, wassock; Peb., Dmf. 1825 Jam.; Kcd. 1973), also made of leather or cloth (Rxb. 1962, weeze, used esp. by bakers). Also in Eng. dial.; (2) used as a protective shield during various manual operations, as when knocking the husks from the ears of barley (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), wasi), when stone-breaking (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 463, wassock; Ork. 1929 Marw., wazzy); (3) used as an ox- or draught-horse collar, or the protective pad under such (Ork. 1808 Jam., weass, 1814 J. Shirreff Agric. Ork. 52, wassie; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), wasi, 1914 Angus Gl., wizzi; Ork. 1929 Marw., wazzy; Ork., Cai. 1973, waz); transf. humorously of a bulky necktie or collar, a thick untidy wrap around the neck (Cai. 1905 E.D.D., Cai. 1973); (4) made into a cylindrical stool about 18″ high and a foot in diameter (Ork. 1929 Marw.). Also attrib. Comb. fit-wazzy, id. (Ib.); (5) now superseded by hemp and used as packing in the joints of metal water-pipes, a kind of grommet or washer (Sc. 1972 J. Hastings Plumber's Companion 160). (1) Edb. 1946:
I used a weeze for many long years. It was made of leather, hair stuffed round the sides and with a dent in the centre which fitted either your head or your cap. In my days we used to mix a little flour and water and rub the inside of the weeze with this batter and then stick it on the top of the cap. The result was that the cap and weeze were always used for the one purpose, carrying boards of bread. It is many years now since I have seen a man carrying bread with a weeze.
(3) Ork. 1769 P. Fea MS. Diary (9 Feb.):
Went in the Barn making Wassies all day.
Ork. 1868 D. Gorrie Orkneys 298:
The back-bands were generally made of plaited bassmatt, and the wassies or collars of twisted oat-straw.
Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 187:
Strae is for mony a good öse, if it wis bit ta mak' a wizzie o'.
Cai. 1916 John o' Groat Jnl. (14 April):
The harness was simple, a rope halter, a straw “wazz” or collar.
(4) Ork. 1911 J. Omond 80 Years Ago 10:
Many of them took a wazzy stool of straw wound round and round like a footstool to sea with them to sit on.
(5) Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 72:
Weese. An iron joint-ring covered with flannel, and tarred or tallowed, for insertion between pump pipes.

3. A bundle of twigs, brushwood or straw placed against a cottage door as a windbreak or draught excluder (Sc. 1825 Jam., weese; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., wassock; Kcb. 1900; Ayr. 1930, wussuck); hence transf. ¶the laths in a lath-and-plaster wall (Ayr. 1930, wussuck). Ayr. 1925 Kilmarnock Standard (15 June):
The doors of these turf huts could not be shut on the outside; on the inside a fabric of interwoven willows called the wussuck was placed against the inside of the door and kept in place by a beam of wood.
Uls. 1942 E. E. Evans Irish Heritage 66:
A wicker windbreak of birch or hazel (called the wassock or corrag in Co. Antrim), was occasionally erected at one side of the door.

4. A bushy, unkempt shock of hair, whiskers, etc. (Ayr. 1958, wassock; Sh. 1973, wizzie). Sh. 1902 Shetland News (18 Jan.):
A'm seen men o' your time o' life 'at wid a hed nae hair apo' der kroon, bit ye hae a wizzie o't yet.
Sh. 1953 New Shetlander No. 36. 28:
A wizzie of mouse-coloured hair which always seemed to be in need of cutting.

[North Mid.Eng. wase, = 1., used as a torch, and 2. (1). Cf. Mid.Du. wase, a torch, North. Fris. waas, horse-collar pad. The I.Sc. forms are from the corresp. Norw., Dan. vase, wisp of straw, bundle, head-pad, tangle, etc. The phonological development of some of the variants is unclear. O.Sc. has weasie, ox-collar, 17th c.]

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"Wase n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 15 Aug 2020 <>



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