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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1976 (SND Vol. X).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

WHISK, v., n. Also whusk. Sc. usages. [ʍɪsk, ʍʌsk]

I. v. 1. To beat, whip, switch. Rare and obs. in Eng. Vbl.n. whiskin, a whipping, beating.Abd. a.1774 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 93:
The pounie was ne'er better whisked Wi' cudgel that hang frae his side.
Gall. 1796 J. Lauderdale Poems 99:
I'll gi'e the saucy loon a whiskin.
Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 71:
Ye will be sairly whiskit By them some day.
Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 120:
Blawin on their fingers, or whuskin themsels wi' their open nieves.

2. To curry or groom (a horse) (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.). Ppl.adj. whiskit, of a horse: with a switched tail (Per. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 1:
A short horse is soon whisked.
Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 30:
Auld Smart she tichtly whiskit, An' his forelock, an' tail sae broon, Wi' babs o' ribbons buskit.

3. In Curling: to sweep the ice in the path of (a stone), to help a stone on by brushing the rink.Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff xvii.:
He shouted lustily, “Give 'im legs! Whusk 'im, men, whusk 'im.”

4. Of the heart: to flutter, palpitate, esp. in vbl.n. whiskin, palpitation (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 228).Slk. 1829 Hogg Tales (1874) 302:
Wha was't that gae the poor precentor the whiskings, and reduced a' his sharps to downright flats?
Sh. 1836 Gentleman's Mag. II. 590:
Ma hert tuik a flochtin an a whiskin.

5. To flatter, wheedle (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 218). Phs. a separate word.

II. n. 1. A blow, swipe. Also fig. Also in n.Eng. dial. Phr. at ae an' ane whusk, ‘at one go,' at one and the same time.Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch viii.:
I could not help giving Tammy Bodkin a terrible whisk in the lug.
Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 206:
The final catastroffy whilk teuk him aff this yird body an' sowl at ae an' ane whusk.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 42:
He need's it, for there's mony whisks An' scaums abeen the sod.

2. A small reel to facilitate the winding of yarn on to a bobbin (Rnf. 1825 Jam.), a swift, gen. in pl. as used in pairs.Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Art of Weaving I. 5:
The yarn, to be wound upon the bobbin, is extended upon two small wheels, revolving on their centres, and called whisks.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 11:
There stands auld Scotland's spinnin' wheel Alangside o' the whusks an' reel.
Per. 1881 D. Macara Crieff 153:
When I was a bit lassie nae bigger than thae whisks.

3. A light, two-wheeled, one-horse carriage (Sc. 1887 Jam.), = Eng. whisky.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 32:
The smirk o' that sweet mou might wile e'en Mess John frae the pulpit, far less a daft chiel frae a whisk — tak care, lads, till I light.

[O.Sc. wisk, a sudden movement, a light stroke, 1375, quhisk, to move with a rush, c.1480, the v. being adopted in Eng. in the 16th, and the n. in the 17th cs. Of Scand. orig., O.N. visk, a wisp, Dan. vispe, to wipe, rub. The wh- is prob. ad. whip.]

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"Whisk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Jun 2023 <>



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