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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1934 (SND Vol. I). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

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 24 Jul 2024 <>



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