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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1941 (SND Vol. II). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CAUK, CAWK, Caulk, Kauk, Kaak, Caak, n., v.1 Gen.Sc. forms of Eng. chalk; Edm. Gl. (1866) and Angus Gl. (1914) give the form kaak for Sh. [kɑ:k I.Sc., n.Sc., sm.Sc., s.Sc.; but em., wm.Sc. + kǫ:k]

I. n.Sc. 1737 Ramsay Proverbs 14:
Cawk's nae Sheers. [A thing may be proposed that may never be carried out; a metaphor derived from tailoring.]
Ags.(D) 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) vi.:
Sandy's been gaen aboot scorin' a' the doors wi' kauk.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller of Deanhaugh ii.:
Jock pointed to some incomprehensible chalk marks on the rough sides of the tram, . . . “You ignoramus, can ye no read caulk?”
wm.Sc. [1835–1837] Laird of Logan (1868) App. 492:
My measter has gotten an order for a big cutting job in a hurry, and I'm rinning afore wi' the cauk, and he is comin' with the shears.

Phrs: (1) cauk and keel, keel and cauk, chalk and ruddle (esp. as used by fortune-tellers); (2) tae come up tae the cauk, to come up to scratch, to reach a certain level of attainment, sc. as indicated by a chalk-mark.(1) Sc. 1724–1727 Ramsay T. T. Misc. (1733) 87:
Wi' cauk and keel I'll win your bread. [i.e. by fortune-telling, pretending to be dumb and making magic signs with chalk (see Jam.).]
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems (1878) 96:
Your mystic draughts, wi' keel and cauk, Gar mony a cudroch chiel to quak.
(2) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 17:
Yet still thou [Muse] maun try tae come up tae the cauk.

II. v.

1. To mark with chalk. In 1919 quot. to mark the door of a house visited on Hogmany from which one has received hospitality. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd Act IV. Sc. i. in Poems (1728):
I'll cawk my Face, and grane, and shake my Head.
Sc. 1832 A. Henderson Sc. Proverbs 150:
Ye're cawking the claith ere the wab be in the loom.
Abd. 1919 R. L. Cassie Byth Ballads 29:
We maun kaak the New Year in, Sae gi'e's a piece an' lat's rin.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 76:
What was his horror when he gaed ben to see a wuddy hingin' frae the laft, and the three words clearly caukit on the roof, “Your last freen!”

Hence kauker in phr. kaukers and keelars, fortune-tellers, see first quot. under Phrase above.s.Sc. 1835–1840 J. M. Wilson Tales of the Borders (1857) IV. 47:
Wat Wilson, the king o' the beggars, crowned . . . in presence o' a' the tribes o' kaukers and keelars collected, from Berwick to Lerwick.

2. (1) To mark up with chalk something to be remembered or paid (Bnff.2, Abd.2, Fif.10 1938; Bnff. 2000s).Sc. 1917 D. G. Mitchell Kirk i' the Clachan 67:
Aiblins, he's miscoontit the number. He doesna want to be fash'd wi' owre mony neibors. Jist cauk his share an' he'll ken wha no to bother wi'.
Abd. 1993:
Ye'll jist need tae caak it up or pey-day.

(2) Hence, “to make one pay dear for anything, to exact ruinous interest” (Mry.1 1925). Known to Bnff.2 and Abd. correspondents only (1938).Abd. 1910 Scotsman (26 May):
He'll cawk ye for that.

[O.Sc. calk, cawk, n. and v. Cawk is used by Blind Harry in Wallace, c.1470, but all the other examples given in D.O.S.T. retain the l. For loss of l in Mod.Sc., see P.L.D. § 78.]

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"Cauk n., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Apr 2024 <>



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