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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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About this entry:
First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CADGER, n. The word is found first in Sc. c.1480 and is still gen. current. Used in Sc. as in St.Eng. to mean a travelling hawker (chiefly of fish), or beggar, but note the following peculiarly Sc. uses.

1. A carter, esp. a member of a carter's society in Ayr. and elsewhere. Clc. 1700 Masterton Papers (S.H.S.) 475: 
John Nucoll, cadger in Alloway, dyd 24 May.
Peb. 1964 Stat. Acc.3 314: 
The 'Whip'-men of Linton - the carters, the carriers and the cadgers.
Ayr. 1904 D. Caldwell Kipper Fair 5: 
The Cadgers, who doubtless got their name from the fact that at one time they used to cadge for work, were in their ordinary rough carter suits.

2. “A person of a disagreeable temper” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D.Bnff. 21; Bnff.2, Abd.22 1938).

3. In proverb: The King's Errand may come in the Cadger's Gate (Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs 62), the king will come in the cadger's road, a great man may need the services of a humble one. Known to Bnff.2, Abd.22, Lnk.3, Kcb.1 1938.Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies of Lennox 175:
I telt ye then that the day micht come when the king would come in the cadger's road, an' ye micht be gled o' a nicht's lodgin's frae me.

4. In phrs.: (1) cadger's brose (Ayr. 1860) (see quot.); (2) cadger's dizzen = 13 (Cai.7 1938); (3) Cadgers' Fair, a fair or holiday celebrated at Stewarton in Ayr. by the local Carters' Society; (4) cadger's news, stale news (Abd.19, Ags.17, Fif.10 1938); (5) cadger's whips, used by children learning to write to indicate letters such as r which have a curve resembling the whip of the cadger; known to Ags.1, Ags.17 1938; (6) to bolt the cadger, to cowp —, to vomit (Ags.1 1938; Ags.17 1938, cowp — ).(1) Sc. 1929 F. M. McNeill Scots Kitchen 199:
Cadger's Brose is like aigar brose [see Aigars], only the meal is placed among boiling water in a little pan, and stirred till all the lumps are broken.
(2)Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poems 123: 
We'd swallowed baith twa cadger's dizen.
(3) Ayr. 1881 Kilmarnock Standard (7 May) 3: 
Stewarton. Cadgers' Fair. - Our annual fair took place on Monday last. In the morning there was a large turnout of cattle. . . . Our Cadgers' procession was a slight improvement on some former occasions, and headed by a brass band they marched through the town, thence to a field on the farm of Robertland where the races took place.
(4)Ags.(D) 1890 Brechin Advertiser (20 May) 3/4:
It's nae doot cadger's news to tell you 'at wir dear native land abounds in such beautiful glimpses.
(5) Ags. 1880 Arbroath Guide (6 March) 4/4:
We first began wi' links an' hooks, An' syne wi' cadger's whips an' crooks.
(6) Ags. 1894 Brechin Advertiser (26 June) 3/4:
Puir things, they paid the piper by boltin' the cadger.

[See etym. note to Cadge, v.1]

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"Cadger n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 28 May 2024 <>



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