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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CAKE, Cyak, Cyaak, Cyauk, Kyaak, n. Sc. forms and usages of St.Eng. cake. [ke:k Sc., but n.Sc. + kjɑ(:)k (see P.L.D. § 141.1)]

1. ne.Sc. form of St.Eng. cake. Deriv. cakie, a small cake. Used attrib. in 1871 quot.Abd.(D) 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xix.:
I wuss 'im luck o' sic mainnerly company — Han' up the kyaak basket wi' the shortbreid, Eliza.
Ags. 1996 Brechin Review 9 May :
Noo ye peer oot yer flat,
Ye've nae juckel nor cat,
An' yer no allowed peevie
nor cakie.

2. Specifically used in Sc. = an oatcake. Gen. used in pl. Also attrib. with breid.Abd. 1924 J. Coutts in Swatches o' Hamespun 64:
Lythe an' happit wi' the heather, John sets doon 'is piece ae day, Butter't scones an' cyauks in corters, slockit wi' a waucht o' tay.
Abd. 2000s:
She'd a makkin cyaaks twice a week.
Peb. [1715] A. Pennecuik Descr. of Tweeddale (1815) 85, Notes:
The oat-cake, known by the sole appellative of cake, is the gala bread of the cottagers.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse, maistly in the Doric 45:
Oor Nannie . . . Wad gi'e him a platefu' o' kail and a spune, A nievefu' o' meal, or a bit o' cake breid.

In phrs.: (1) cyaks o' breid, oat-cakes (Bnff. 1914 K. W. Peterkin W.-L.; Bnff.2 1938); (2) Land o(f) cakes, a popular designation for Scotland, arising from the fact that oatcakes are (or were) an important item in the fare of the rural population.(2) Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems II. 282:
Nor believe These wha an ill Report would give To Ed'nburgh and the Land of Cakes.
Ags. 1897 W. Allan in A. Reid Bards of Angus and Mearns 5:
It is famed for sang an' for men o' worth, An' kent as the Land o' Cakes.
Ayr. 1789 Burns Capt. Grose's Peregrinations (Cent. ed.) i.:
Hear, Land o' Cakes, and brither Scots Frae Maidenkirk to Johnie Groat's.

3. “Pieces of fancy-bread or currant loaf as customarily given to children requesting such on the morning of Old Year's Day” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); also used of oatcakes, fancy cakes, etc., offered to callers on New Year's Eve (Fif.10 1938). Always used in pl.Rxb. c.1885 W. Laidlaw Poetry and Prose (1901) 34:
And Jethart bairns, on Auld Year's day, Would get their cakes for Hogmanay.

Combs.: ‡(1) Cake-day, Old Year's Day, see first quot.; given by Watson in Rxb. W.-B. (1923) and by Lnl.1 1918 for Fif., obsol.; ‡(2) cake night, New Year's Eve, “Hogmanay.” Given as obsol. by Watson.(1) Fif. 1936 St Andrews Cit. (4 Jan.) 4/3:
Cakeday. An ancient custom which is still observed by the children of St Andrews is the collection of their “cakes” from local shops and houses on Hogmanay. As early as 6 o'clock on Tuesday morning little groups of children set out, armed with baskets and large paper bags, on a tour of the town, and were rewarded with gifts of buns, shortbread, biscuits, chocolate, fruit, etc. In some instances they were called upon to recite or sing before receiving their “cakes” [see Singing Cake], and the familiar lines which were most often quoted were: — “Ma feet's cauld, Ma shoon's thin; Gie's ma cakes, An' let me rin.”
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor 246:
And then [in December] our Village children have “Barring-out Day,” “Guisarts,” “Cake-day,” and “Hansel Monday.”
(2) Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (30 Dec.) 2/7:
A venerable rustic assures me that “cake night” was a great institution in his young days, half a century ago. . . . From house to house the residents meandered and regaled mutual hospitality, in the shape of cakes and cheese and ale and whisky, song and dance.

Hence caking, the custom of going round to ask for “cakes,” practised by children on Old Year's Day; or that of visiting one's friends on New Year's Eve and partaking of their “cakes” and wine.Fif. 1895 “G. Setoun” Sunshine and Haar i.:
Hansel Monday was a day of gaiety. . . . The hours were passed in visiting and caking.
Rxb. 1921 Kelso Chron. (29 Dec.) 2/7:
The Auld Year's Night happened to be a Saturday and after all the houses had had their turn of “caking” the wind up was in Wat's.

[O.Sc. cake, caik, a cake, esp. an oatcake; a bannock (D.O.S.T.); Mid.Eng. cake, c.1230, prob. a Scand. loan-word, cf. Norw. and Sw. kaka, Dan. kage, a cake (O.N. has it in kokukorn (Torp)).]

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"Cake n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 Feb 2024 <>



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