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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.

BICKER, Biker, n.2 and v.2

1. n. A vessel for containing liquor for drinking, properly one made of wood; a porridge-dish; a bowl; a small wooden vessel made of staves with one or two staves prolonged to form lugs (once common in this usage in all parts of Scotland); transf. the feeding-trough in a manger (Lth. 1975). Sc. 1716 Ramsay Chr. Kirke in Poems (1721) ii. vii.:
Now settled Gossies sat, and keen Did for fresh Bickers birle.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian v.:
Tell Peggy to gi'e ye a bicker o' broth.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Biker. A wooden cup; drinking-vessel; round wooden vessel with an upright handle on one side.
Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder Moray Floods (1873) 91:
I saw no less than thirteen children round an immense bicker of brose, using their spoons to the best possible advantage.
Edb. 1772 R. Fergusson Sc. Poems (1925) 9:
While round they gar the bicker roll To weet their mouth.
Kcb. 1895 S. R. Crockett Men of the Moss Hags xxvii.:
Soldiers are great trenchermen, and can right nobly “claw a bicker” and “toom a stoup” with any man.

Hence bickerfu'.Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate xi.:
It canna grind a bickerfu' of meal in a quarter of an hour.
Abd. 1801 W. Beattie Parings (1873) 37:
Wi' a brown bickerfu' to quaff.

Combs.: (1) bicker-cut, a method of cutting the hair with the aid of a bowl on the head to guide the scissors; (2) bicker-raid (see quot.).(1) Edb. 1828 D. M. Moir Mansie Wauch (1839) xxvi.:
Give plowmen's heads the bicker-cut for a penny.
(2) Rxb. 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B. now obs.:
Bicker-raid. The name given to an indecent frolick which formerly prevailed in harvest, after the labourers had finished dinner. A young man, laying hold of a girl, threw her down, and the rest covered them with their empty bickers. I am informed that, within these thirty years, a clergyman, in fencing the tables at a sacrament, debarred all who had been guilty of engaging in the Bicker-raid in hairst.

2. v. To partake from a common dish.Sc. 1879 G. Macdonald Sir Gibbie xiii.:
A little apart sat a boy, whom the woman seemed to favour, having provided him with a plateful of porridge by himself, but the fact was, four were as many as could bicker comfortably, or with any chance of fair play.

[O.Sc. bikker, bicker, beckar, etc.; earliest quot. from Dunbar 16th cent.; O.N. bikarr; Mid.Eng. biker (1348), bikyr, becure; mod. Eng. beaker; Ger. becher; Du. beker; Ital. bicchiere; med.Lat. bicarium, picarium.]

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"Bicker n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 1 Oct 2022 <>



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