Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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WAUK, v., n. Also wauke (Rxb. 1913 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 49), wawk, wa(a)k; ¶walk; waik (Ags. 1927 L. Spence Weirds and Vanities 2). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. wake. [wɑk, wk]

I. v. 1. intr. (1) To be or stay awake, not to be asleep, to be sleepless or to have wakened from sleep (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.). Freq. in ppl.adjs. pres. waukin(g), past wauken, which have become confused in use as in wauken hours (em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies 13; Sc. 1926 Edb. Ev. News (6 Aug.) 4). See etym. note. Gen.Sc. Rare or arch. in Eng. Phr. and derivs.: waukative, wakeful, easily aroused from sleep (Ork. 1929 Marw.); wauker, one who keeps awake, a non-sleeper; wide waukin, wide awake (Ork. 1973). Sc. 1726 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 161:
O wha's that at my chamber door? “Fair widow, are ye wawkin?”
Cai. 1745 Session Papers, Miln v. Dunbar (7 Jan.) 14:
She was in the house all Night, and waked, and did not go to Bed.
Sc. c.1770 Herd's MSS. (Hecht 1904) 240:
A' the night I wak, A' the day I weary.
Ayr. 1794 Burns For the Sake o' Somebody i.:
I could wake a winter night For the sake o' Somebody.
Sc. 1816 Scott Black Dwarf x.:
I ken ye're within doors, and wauking.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 72:
1 was wide wakin whan ye came to bed.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iv., viii.:
The bein' in the cradle was lyin' wide wauken. . . . There are generally mair sleepers than waukers amang the weary worshippers.
Rxb. 1883 J. B. Webber Rambles 63:
The windy man Will keep us waken if he can.
Ags. 1889 Barrie W. in Thrums xix.:
She was up, though, lang afore he was wauken.
Gsw. 1933 F. Niven Mrs. Barry xxi.:
“Are you wauken, laddie? ” she whispered.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick iii.:
Ye maan hae time tae sleep an' waak on a projeck.
Sh. 1956 New Shetlander No. 44. 21:
He wid lie waaken in his bunk at night.

(2) To be wakeful and watchful, to be vigilant. Hence phr. to wake and ward, of a citizen of a burgh: to fulfil official duty as sentinel or watchman. See also 2. and Watch, v., 1. Hist. Sc. a.1714 New S.C. Misc. II. 367:
I shall Scot, Lot, Watch, Wake and Ward with the inhabitants of this burgh.
Bwk. 1879 W. Chisholm Poems 20:
Fairies still wauk'd i' the haunted glen.

2. tr. (1) To guard, watch over, keep an eye on (places, live-stock, etc.), esp. during the night (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.). Also in Eng. dial. Deriv. wauker, a watchman, specif. one who watches bleaching or drying clothes (Sc. 1908 Jam.). Freq. in vbl.n. and phrs. as below; for to wauk the loan, — the taings, see Loan, n.1, 1., Tangs, 2. (8); to wauk one's wit, to be alert and quick-witted, to master a subject quickly, to sharpen one's wits. Sc. 1725 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 209:
Yet well I like to meet her at The wawking of the fauld.
Gall. 1725 Session Bk. Minnigaff (1939) 460:
One morning early coming from the waking of the loan.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Tam Glen vii.:
Last Halloween I was waukin My droukit sark-sleeve.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Wauking of the Claise, the act of tending, during night, a washing of clothes, spread out on the grass to be bleached or dried. Wauking o' the Fauld, the act of watching the sheep-fold, about the end of summer, when the lambs were weaned, and the ewes milked. Wauking o' the Kirk-yard, the act of watching the dead after interment, for preventing the inroads of resurrection-men.
Sc. 1827 G. R. Kinloch Ballad Book 23:
The lassie and the laddie Gaed out to wauk the mill.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales (1837) II. 278:
You shall gang and wake the lambs wi' Sandy a' night.
Mry. 1887 W. H. L. Tester Poems 39:
On summer nichts, wauken the claes Wi' maidens fair.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 131:
We ne'er can wauk oor wut owre early.
Sc. 1901 Scotsman (20 Aug.) 7:
When it [malt] had reached the proper point of ‘sweet ' heat it had to be kiln-dried at once; otherwise it lost strength. Hence it was common to “wauk maut.”

(2) Specif. to stay up all night with (a sick person, or, more frequently, a corpse); to keep vigil, to hold a funeral wake for. Also in Eng. dial. Fig. in phr. to wauke the auld year into the new, to see the New Year in. Derivs. waukin, vbl.n., a wake, wauker, one who keeps vigil over a corpse. Sc. 1759 Session Papers, Petition J. Smith (16 Jan.) 16:
The Lady was waked every night, like a dying person.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 46:
“To wauke the auld year into the new”', is a popular and expressive phrase for watching until twelve o'clock announces the new year.
Inv. 1812 E. Grant Memoirs (1898) 192:
He died, and was waked, after the old fashion, shaved and partly dressed and set up in his bed.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet Letter xi.:
Naebody cared to wake Sir Robert Redgauntlet like another corpse.
Sc. a.1848 D. Hogg Rev. J. Wightman (1873) 111:
The “waukin” of the corpse was a matter requiring considerable fortitude. The “waukers” kept a candle burning all night beside the body.
Abd. 1861 J. Davidson Poems 47:
My Jean caught infection while waukin' Grace Horne.
Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 33:
We aye waukit the corpses, an' I can tell ye we hed sometimes near aboot as cheery times then as we hed at mairrages.
m.Lth. 1911 J. Dickson Crichtoun 115:
The “sitting up,” or waukan, as it was sometimes called, was quite common until recent years.

II. n. 1. Awakening, rousing, in nonce phrs. wauk o' day, = break of day, dawn, walk o' wind, the raising of wind. Dmf. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 658:
That chief wizard Walter Comyne, wha built a castle wi' walk o' wind — necromantic wind I mean.
Ayr. 1913 “Kissock” Poems 28:
A smile like wauk o' day.

2. (1) in pl.: town waits, a small band of musicians, maintained by a town at the public charge, who frequently played in streets by night at Christmas and the New Year. See Hoboy(e). Edb. 1856 Scotsman (1 Jan.):
At the hour of midnight the melodious strains of the “Wakes ” are frequently heard. In Edinburgh the Wakes are appointed by the Town Council. . . . Some months ago, the Wakes, as a body, took the opportunity of petitioning the Magistrates and Council for a renewal of their old allowance. After due deliberation the prayer of their petition was not granted.

(2) Only in Hogg: a serenade, a midnight concert of song or instrumental music. Slk. 1813 Hogg Queen's Wake 5, 135, 330:
Those wakes, now played by minstrels poor, At midnight's darkest, chillest hour, Those humble wakes, now scorned by all, Were first begun in courtly hall . . . The lake-fowl's wake was heard no more . . . So low has the characters of the minstrels descended, that the performers of the Christmas wakes are wholly unknown to the most part of those whom they serenade.

3. Appar. a guard, a state of watchfulness, a vigil. The word occurs in various texts of the ballad below but the passage may be corrupt. Sc. c.1800 Erlinton in Child Ballads No. 8 A. v.:
In my bower, Willie, there is a wane, An in the wane there is a wake; But I will come to the green woods The morn, for my ain true-love's sake.

4. As in Eng. and Ir., the custom of sitting up with the dead. Comb. †wake-dip, a candle lit at a wake, which indicated by its manner of burning how the deceased was faring in the next world (Ayr. 1930).

[As explained in N.E.D. the verb wake derives from the fusion of two O.E. verbs, weak wacian and defective strong *wacan. The strong verb has a pa.p., Mid.Eng. waken, O.N. vakinn, awake, which survives in Sc. as wauken, the w- preventing the fronting of the a.]

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"Wauk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Jul 2020 <>



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