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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1952 (SND Vol. III). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

CRAIK, Kraik, v. and n. [krek]

1. v.

(1) Of birds: to utter a harsh sound, to croak (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Fif.10, Slg.3, Kcb.10 1940); “primarily denotes the cry of a hen after laying” (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Ppl.adj. craiking.Sc. 1788 Scots Mag. 558:
The craw is herse upon a tree, As weel's when craiking on the lee.
Ags. 1824 J. Bowick Characters 22:
Until the craiking crail [rail] among the corn, And the night owlet, too, have ceased to cry.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
The hen craikit wi' pain.

(2) Of inanimate objects: to creak (Bnff.2, Fif.10 1940). Ppl.adj. craikin'.Sc. 1828 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 52–53:
The tane stickin out sturdily . . . the tither constantly craikin frae some cause nae carpenter could ever fin' out.
Ags. 1990 Raymond Vettese in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 141:
And sae we were, an' still are, as we sit in the quiet o the howff; the freithin pints settle and the silence craiks and the door tremmles wi the wun but never birsts wide, ...
Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 54:
The noise o' amry doors an' snecks, In bed the drowsy wight perplex, Wi' craikin' cry.
Ant. 1931 “Logwood” in North. Whig (11 Dec.) 13/2:
Here is an old fireside riddle in Doric: — As I went ower Cairn Hill Cairn Hill craiked; Fower an' twenty wee things Jumped oot naked.

(3) “To keep on asking” (n.Ant. 1931 “Ballymoney” in North. Whig (11 Dec.) 13/1), to clamour; “to call for any thing, with importunity and impatience” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth. 1926 Wilson Cent. Scot. 236; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Known to Abd.27 1947 (for Bwk.); Arg.1, Lnk.11, Kcb.1 1940. Vbl.n. craikin(g), “persistent asking” (Rnf.1 c.1920), clamouring. Rarely used pers. of an importunate child.Sc. 1824 S. E. Ferrier Inheritance II. xxx.:
'Deed he just craik craiks to be up, and than whan he's up, he craik craiks to be doun.
w.Lth. 1896 Poets Lnl. (Bisset) 263:
There it's noo - ye dinsome craikin', Sugar-bowl in twa ye've braken.
Edb. 1917 T. W. Paterson Wyse-Sayin's xxvi. 84:
The craikin o' hunger wad gar onybody tak to the darg.
Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 45:
[They are ] ever craiken' lood an' lang tae rule the States.

(4) tr. and intr. To grumble, complain peevishly (about) (Fif.10, Lnk.11, Kcb.10 1940; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Cf. Crauk.Sc. 1862 A. Hislop Proverbs (1868) 16:
A' craiks a' bears.
Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Songs 29:
Lat's see gien he can turn a han', Or only luik and craik.
Hdg. 1908 J. Lumsden Th' Loudons 145:
Start the nicht, an' craik till the daw, Ilka nicht till he's back.
Ayr.4 1928:
She's aye craikin aboot something.
Wgt., Kcb. 1988 W. A. D. and D. Riach A Galloway Glossary :
craikin-on complaining.
Kcb. 1827 Curriehill:
A greedy selfish person is always craikin' want.
w.Dmf. 1908 J. L. Waugh Robbie Doo (1912) i.:
What are ye kraikin' aboot? I declare there's nae pleasin' some fouk.

2. n.

(1) The harsh cry made by a bird (Bnff.2, Abd.9, Ags.2, Fif.10, Kcb.9 1940); gen. used of the landrail (cf. (3) below).Ork. 1883 R. M. Fergusson Rambling Sketches 107:
We could hear the harsh craik of the sleepless landrail as it echoed over the fields.
Dmf. 1874 R. Reid in Recent Sc. Poets (ed. A. G. Murdoch 1881) ii. 252:
The merle's lown craik in the tangled brake can start nae memories dear.
Rxb. 1845 T. Aird Old Bachelor 82:
The craik of the rail from the thick dewy clover.

(2) Ill-natured gossip; grumbling talk (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1883 M. O. Oliphant Lover and Lass III. ix.:
For years past there has never been but a craik about Lilias Murray.
s.Sc. a.1870 H. S. Riddell Poet. Wks. (1871) II. 287:
A ray now on their souls had dawned, Which their keen craik silenced.

(3) The landrail, Crex crex (Bnff.2 (rare), Abd.9, Fif.10 1940). Also comb. corn-craik, which although orig. Sc. is now accepted as St.Eng., and corn-craker (w.Sc. 1703 M. Martin Western Islands 71).Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 80:
An' when fool snipes an' plovers cry, An' craiks an' pairtricks flutter by.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 164:
Hoarse screams th' Corn-craik, from the dewy hay.
Ayr. 1790 Burns Elegy on Capt. Henderson (Cent. ed.) ix.:
Mourn, clam'ring craiks, at close o' day, 'Mang fields o' flow'ring clover gay!
Rxb. a.1860 J. Younger Autobiog. (1881) 17:
Our solitary summer moonlight attempts to trace and catch the craik amongst the dripping wet green corn or clover.

(4) “A child's toy rattle” (Abd. 1898 E.D.D.; Abd.2 1940). Cf. corn-craik, id., s.v. Corn, n.1, 7. (7).

[O.Sc. has craik, n. and v., (to utter) a harsh cry, croak, from c.1470, and cornecrake, the landrail, c.1450 (D.O.S.T.), phs. of same origin as O.E. crācettan, to croak, dim. of an O.E. *crācian. Onomat. in origin.]

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"Craik v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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