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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GRIP, v., n. Also †gripp, grup, †grupp. [grɪp, grʌp]

I. v. Pa.t.: weak grippit, gripit, -et (Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 102), gruppit, -et, -ed, grupt, strong grap; pa.p.: weak gript, grippit, -et, griped, gruppit, -ed, strong gruppen (Slk. 1893 J. Dalgleish Walter Wathershanks 40; ‡s.Sc. 1955).

Sc. forms of Eng. grip.m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 33:
I heard a muckle dunt in the mirk nicht;
an oorie thing, I waukent in a fricht
gruppit, I thocht, atween the shears o fate.
Ags. 1993 Mary McIntosh in Joy Hendry Chapman 74-5 113:
He wis gaen wrang aa thegither, it maun be aa the bluid he had tint. His guid haund gruppit the braig i his belt. The wummin taen a stap backart.
m.Sc. 1994 John Burns in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 24:
As he bent ower wi the fuit gruppit ticht atween his legs his face gat reid an the sweit drappt doun aff his foreheid on tae the stour o the smiddy flair.
w.Lth. 2000 Davie Kerr A Puckle Poems 7:
We're aa computor number such an such,
grup't in the multi-national clutch.

Sc. usages:

1. tr. (1) To seize, catch, lay hold of. Gen.(but ‡Lth.)Sc. Specif.: to arrest (a person); to catch (fish); to catch, connect with, of trains, buses, etc. (Dmf. 1952); to overtake, of a boat (Sh. 1955), cf. 4. (2) (a). With up: to grab up.Gall. 1700 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 53:
She saw him also take up a staff and, lifting it to strike, his daughter gripped it and held it.
Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T.Misc. 57:
The whillywha's will grip ye'r gear.
Mry. 1735 Lord Elchies' Letters (MacWilliam 1927) 215:
The Laird of Grant having griped the money at Edinr.
Sc. c.1800 Hughie Grame in Child Ballads No. 191 C. i.:
An he has grippit Hughie the Græme, For stealin o the Bishop's mare.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley xvii.:
On the creagh . . . we gripped nothing but a fat baillie of Perth.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Of a woman who is married after a tedious and difficult courtship, it is sometimes said; “She's like the man's mare; she was ill to grip, and she wasna muckle worth when she was grippit.”
Ayr. 1826 Galt Last of the Lairds 352:
I doutna [she] will grup like a drowning creature at ony comfortable down-sitting.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Tales, etc. (1837) III. 182:
I'll owre the hill to the Elfstane Burn, and grip a dizen o' trouts for our dinner.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 290:
He heard the clinking of a chain . . . the cleeks verra nearly grippit him by his haunch buttons.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 50:
Thae were sune grupped by a policeman.
Gall. 1901 Trotter Gall. Gossip 135:
Whun ye hae him [husband] he's often no muckle worth, harly worth the gruppin, let alane the keepin', atweel!
Abd. 1991 David Ogston in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 118:
'Dae ye want a haun oot?'
Says Cameron, so I grippit
His haun an loot him rive me
On to solid grun.
Sc. 1991 John McDonald in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 90:
Spain's sair syle cam drookit i their licht;
an the sair syle gruppit their smeddum
tae'ts hert - hainin a pickle

Phr. and Comb.: grippin bucht, a pen in which sheep are caught and held for shearing (Kcb. 1955). Cf. Gripper, 2.; gruppen an' liftit, “arrested and run in” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).

(2) Used of a disease or ailment: to seize, attack. Orig. Sc. Ppl.adj. gruppen, gruppit, sprained (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bnff.4 1927; Abd., Arg., Ayr., Rxb., Uls. 1955), grippet, touched (in the head) (Fif. 1955); vbl.n. gripping, gruppin(g), a constriction; specif. a paralytic disease of sheep (see quots.). Also = to gripe, of the bowels (ne.Sc., Per., Fif., Lnk., sm.Sc. 1955).Kcb. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 518:
Another disease [of sheep] very common on some farms is termed the gripping. This is evidently a paraletic or nervous affection, where one or more of the limbs, or sometimes the whole body is affected.
Wgt. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 IV. 91:
Diseases . . . among sheep . . . grupping, a kind of palsy . . . sometimes cured by putting the sheep into a clover or turnip-field.
Abd. 1909 C. Murray Hamewith 9:
To ease a neebour's grippit wean, Or thoom a thraw, there wasna ane Could e'er come near her.
(3) To get the advantage of in a bargain, outsmart (ne.Sc. 1975).ne.Sc. 1860 E. B. Ramsay Reminisc. 71:
I grippit a chiel for the powny.

2. tr. To seize land (Sh., Ork. 1955). Mainly hist.Sc. a.1800 Jamie Telfer in Child Ballads (1898) IV. 6. xii.:
My lord may grip my vassal-lands.
I.Sc. 1807 J. Hall Travels I. 619:
And lands, thus violently seized on, are, without ceremony, stated, in some rent-rolls at this day, to be possessed in virtue of Gripping.
Sh. 1814 J. Shirreff Agric. Sh. 17:
In the times of violence, when the practice of griping lands was common, which their runridge state afforded pretences for attempting.

3. intr. and absol. To take a firm hold; to make a snatch or grab. Also fig.: to become an adherent.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 122:
Jobs, changes, lends, extorses, cheats and grips, And no ae Turn of gainfu' Us'ry slips.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck iii.:
He tried . . . to make me a Cameronian, but I wadna grip.
Rxb. 1868 D. Anderson Musings 6:
He held out the shilling to arle the bit wench, She grap at it, muttering, I should hae had mair.

Hence ¶(1) grip-and-haud, adj. phr., tight-fisted, greedy; ¶(2) grip-gear, n.comb., a money-grubber, miser; (3) gripping, ppl.adj., (a) grasping, avaricious; (b) cramping (Gsw. 1934 E. Partridge Dict. Slang); (4) grippit, ppl.adj., (a) avaricious, close-fisted (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 69); (b) hard-up, pressed for money (Abd.13 1910; Abd., Ags. 1955), in sore straits.(1) Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xci.:
Ye partan-handit, grip-and-haud smedy-vyce Mammon o' unrighteousness.
(1) Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Miller 243:
Aye thought that the auld grip-gear wadna hae gien ye the wark to do unless to get a rug aff ye, at prices that naebody else wad hae ta'en't in hand for.
(3) (a) Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 102:
The country hated my hard gripping way, And thrummled a' ill bargain on me aye.
Gsw. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 274:
Some hard grippin' mortals wha deem themsel's wise, A glass o' good whisky affect to despise.
Ayr. a.1878 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage (1892) 308:
Let the poor and needy Ken ye hae a creel But the grippin' greedy, Pit it to them weel.
(b) Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 203:
Tae grippen rules ye may restrick us.
(4) (b) Bnff. 1871 Bnffsh. Jnl. (4 July) 3:
My father's grippit wi his fairm Tho' hard an' sair we a' hae vrocht.

4. With advs. and preps.: (1) in, to pinch, constrict (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags. 1955); (2) on, (a) to catch up, overtake (Uls. 1955); (b) to pull on (clothes) hastily; (3) to, till, to seize, lay hold on, stick close to, hold fast to (Sh., ne.Sc., Ags. 1955).(1) Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood vii.:
It[bodice]'s some grippit in at the middle.
(2) (a) Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
“She's gruppin' on us”; said of one boat gaining on another.
(b) Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 16:
They hear the dishes dinlin' and they grup Their Sunday claes on and come garbit ben.
(3) Gall. 1700 Session Bk. Penninghame (1933) I. 53:
Coming to the house she heard John M'Hurtor say his daughter gripped to his craig.
Mearns 1796 J. Burness Thrummy Cap (n.d.) 169–70:
Johnny grips to him, an' says na, I winna let you gang awa.
Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality i.:
And now they are gripping to the bow and to the spear, when they suld be mourning for a sinfu' land and a broken covenant.
Sc. 1818 Scott Rob Roy xxvi.:
Some grit neighbours o' his grippit to his living and land.
Bnff. 1882 W. M. Philip K. MacIntosh's Scholars i.:
A fickle and flighty generation, which . . . “never gripit fast to onything.”
Edb. 1884 R. F. Hardy Glenairlie i. v.:
I hae aye gruppet to the thocht that there may be mair than ae yett into the kingdom!
Kcb. 1900 W. Macgillivray Glengoyne I. ix.:
Grip to her, John, an' nae be lang about it.
Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS.:
Ane o' the gairners got haud o' her and he grippet sae close tull her that Geordie never got a dance wi' her.

II. n.

Sc. form of Eng. grip.em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 64:
' ... Onywey, the English settlers wantit the port freed frae Edinburgh's grup, a thing that would hae had the maist grievous repercussions on oor finances. ... '

Sc. usages:

1. A clasp of the hand; specif. the special hand-clasp used between initiated members of a secret society, e.g. the Freemasons, Curling clubs. Gen.Sc.Sc. 1755 Scots Mag. (March) 134:
The token or grip is, by laying the ball of the thumb of the right hand upon the first or uppermost knuckle of the second finger from the thumb of the other's right hand.
Dmf. 1776 in J. Kerr Hist. Curling (1890) 352:
The curler grip, with the explanation: — “Griping hands in the common manner of shaking hands is the griping the hand of the curling-stone. The thumb of the person examined or instructed thrust in betwixt the thumb and forefinger of the examinator or instructor signifies running a port. The little finger of the person examined or instructed linked with the little finger of the examinator . . . means an in-ring.”
Ayr. 1786 Burns Add. to Deil xiv.:
When masons' mystic word an' grip, In storms an' tempests raise you up.
Sc. 1820 Scott Abbot vii.:
Give us a grip of your hand, man, for auld lang syne.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 79:
He . . . took haud o' my hand, and sic a saft, kindly grip.
Abd. 1877 G. Macdonald M. of Lossie I. vii.:
Gie's a grup o' yer han', my lord . . . an' may God haud ye lang in life an' honour to reule ower us.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 22:
I got the “grip,” I got the “wird,” I likewise got blin' fou'.
Per., Fif.17 1954:
A Butcher's Grip: the method of holding hands with another person using the curled fingers only. Used e.g. by the two leaders in a ropeless tug-of-war, the advantage being that either one can release himself completely at will, without being hurt by the other's continuing hold [known as a mouse's grip in Abd. (Abd.31)].

2. In pl.: (1) an arm-clasp, an embrace; clutches (Sh., Abd., Arg. 1955).Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shepherd i. i.:
Hard and fast I held her in my grips.
Sc. 1777 Weekly Mag. (23 Oct.) 88:
And I, I wat, Wi' fainness grat, While in his grips he press'd me!
Rnf. 1825 Jam.:
I wadna like to cum in his grups, for he wad be fair to waur me.
Dmf. 1863 R. Quinn Heather Lintie 215:
Yer wanton grips, and a' that, Yer faithless lips, and a' that.
Hdg. 1892 J. Lumsden Sheep-Head 88:
If in yer grips ae cheep, like Arian, They dare to mew — Expunge them wi' the Unitarian Socinian crew!
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (5 March):
Shü wrassl'd oot o' Willie's grips.
Rxb. 1918 Kelso Chron. (18 Jan.) 3:
“Man, I daurna,” pleaded Jockey. “I wasna tae let it oot my grips. Ye ken, he lent it tae me — juist for the day, like.”

Phr.: to get grips, to get a firm hold.Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 8:
An' want, that formidable fae, Got grips, an' wadna let him gae.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) ix.:
You wudda thocht the very deevil himsel' had gotten grips o' the frame o' oor winda.

(2) A close struggle, a tussle, wrestle, close-quarters, esp. in such phrs. as in (short) grips, to come to grips, to close with, to settle with, to get in(to) grips. Appar. orig. Sc., though now freq. in Eng.Slk. 1824 Hogg Tales (1874) 366:
The Jewel was amaist comed to grips at that verse about the kiss.
Sc. 1828 Scott Letters (Cent. ed.) XI. 53:
When the younger [Ruthven] was killed, Ramsay found him in grips with the King [James VI].
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 463–64:
“What's the best way, John, to resist the temptation of Satan?” “Just to keep him in short grips, Sir,” immediately replied the pithy John.
Ayr. 1870 J. K. Hunter Life Studies 50:
She has heard them in grips rummagin' through the room, and then a thud.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore ii.:
Young Milwain appeart on the scene, an' gat into grips wi' the blagyerd.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona iv.:
I saw we were come to grips at last.
Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel xiii.:
There wouldna be much left o' him if some o' oor lads cam' to grips with him.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 141:
Oor Jock, and Sanny's brither, Had got themsel's in death-like grups, Were chikklin' ane anither.

3. Something which grips: (1) in pl., bonds, fetters; ¶(2) an ear-ring.(1) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 38:
Tuggling an' struggling how to get him free, . . . Till wi' the grips he was baith black an' blue, At last in twa the dowie raips he gnew.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xvii.:
You and I will . . . see him in grips or we are done wi' him.
(2) Abd. 1828 P. Buchan Ballads (1875) II. 132:
They cutted the grips out o' his ears, Took out the gowd signots.

4. A sharp pain, esp. in the bowels, a spasm (Cai., Kcb. 1955). Also of childbirth and fig. Gen. in pl. = colic pains, gripes (Sh., ne. and em.Sc.(a), sm.Sc. 1955). Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1786 Burns Sc. Drink xix.:
Now colic-grips, an' barkin hoast, May kill us a'.
Nai. 1828 W. Gordon Poems 123:
But were ye born to toil through a' the day, The gout or grips but seldom ye would ha'e.
Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 99:
Sickness at their hearts keeps knockin', Till, forced to yield, they aften tumble, Roarin' wi' grups.
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems & Sk. 237:
I ha'e sic a sair grip in my side.
Abd. 1867 W. Anderson Rhymes 32:
She could . . . Cure . . . bairns o' the grips, wi' a blast o' her breath.
Ags. 1887 Brechin Advertiser (25 Oct.):
Yer teetotallers . . . wid gar ye beleev 'at a moufu' o' gude heelant whisky 's nae use for either the grips or the dowie hert.
Per. 1897 C.R. Dunning Folk-Lore 4:
Whan the guidwife o' Bawhandie wis in sair grip, an' naebody tae rin for the midwife.

5. A valuable object or possession, excellent of its kind, a “catch” (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh. 1955). Cf. v. 1. (1), 1825 quot.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Shø's gotten a guid (puir) grip, she has got a good (bad) husband.

6. A miner's pick (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 33).Rnf. 1713 W. Grossart Shotts (1880) 240:
The smith has four pounds for every fall of the chain . . . and four pounds for mending the grips yearly.

7. In pipe music: a kind of grace note, produced by gripping the chanter, i.e. closing all the finger holes, and so sounding the lowest note G, and thereupon lifting the forefinger or sometimes the third finger of the lower hand for an instant so as to sound a “cutting” or grace-note.Sc. 1902 E. Dwelly Gaelic Dict., s.v. canntaireachd:
The doubling of E is done with the grips from o or C note. . . . The grips are taken from the note played.

8. Phrs. & Comb.: (1) grip-grass, cleavers or catchweed, Galium aparine. Also in Nhb. dial.; (2) grip-stick, a notched or forked stick used in catching mussels; (3) to catch grup o', to take hold of (Sh., Ags., wm.Sc., Rxb. 1955); also fig.; (4) to gae by the grip, to walk by holding on to someone or something (of a young child when learning to walk). Cf. to gang by haul s.v. Haud, n. Also fig.; (5) to hae a guid grip o' (the) gear, (a) to be well off (Ags., wm.Sc. 1955); (b) to be very thrifty (Sc. 1900 E.D.D.) or miserly (em.Sc.(a), Ayr., Rxb. 1955); (6) to ha'e a gueede grip o' (common) sense, to show oneself prudent (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff., Add. 225); (7) to hae (tak) a guid grip o' Scotland, (a) to have large flat feet. Gen.Sc.; (b) fig.: to have one's feet firmly on the earth, to be serious-minded, sober, cautious, unimaginative (Abd.27 1955); (8) to haud the grup, to keep a firm hold; also fig., to hold to one's faith or purpose, to endure (Arg., Wgt. 1955); (9) to slip the grip, to die (Sc. 1882 Jam.; Abd., Ags. 1955).(1) Sc. 1812 J. Sinclair Systems Husb. Scot. i. 327:
Another sort of bad seed, called gripgrass, amongst the English lintseed.
Bwk. 1853 G. Johnston Botany E. Borders 100:
It is also named grip-grass, because the prickles of its leaves, and the bristles of its fruit, make it catch at everything.
Bwk. 1883 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club X. 244:
The wheat-crop is much infested with grip-grass, whose seeds are a nuisance to the miller.
(2)Abd. 1967 Buchan Observer (11 July) 7:
One pearl fisher found a lovely big pearl. When he saw what he had got he flung down his grip-stick and off to the station.
 (3) Edb. 1895 J. Tweeddale Moff 154:
A discoorse . . . that waefu' thin . . . 'E can catch grup o' naething.
(4) wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 308:
Man, you'll be a poor soul in a pulpit! . . . You'll just be gaun by the grip to the end o' your days.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums iii.:
When I would be a bit wean juist gaun by the grup.
(5) (a) ne.Sc. 1888 D. Grant Keckleton 136:
Although we had come to hae a guid grip o' gear, yet . . . the Captain . . . cud luik upon us only as weel-to-dae clodhoppers an' naething mair.
(b) Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums viii.:
My faither hadna the guid grup o' the gear that my grandfaither had.
(8) Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Poems (1871) 12:
There's my beast, lad, had the grup, Or tie't till a tree.
wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan 503:
Glue is said to hold the grip. Will Shore could not conceive how it was that, when he was drunk, “his feet wadna haud the grip.”
Gsw. 1873 A. G. Murdoch Lilts 48:
An' some ye'll find o' feckless stuff Wha winna haud the grup; But aye when fortune kicks the trams The kittle race gie up.
ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays 135:
My mither tongue! ye'll haud the grip While words hae power to teach.
w.Dmf. 1913 A. Anderson Later Poems 4:
His breeks are through the knees Thread is no for him ava' — It never hauds the grup.
(9) Sc. 1797 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 534:
John Wardlaw . . . in spring 1757 tauld me, that he slippet the grupp, either end of fifty-sax, or beginning of fifty-seven.
Ags. 1822 A. Balfour Farmers' Three Daughters 238:
There's naebody kens that Willie's slippit the grip this morning, but your honour and mysel.
Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 167:
A sent word t' the ferrier aboot ma coo; bit she slippit the grip or he wan till 'ir.

9. The hold with its teeth on a sheep by a sheep-dog, considered as a fault.Dmf. 1956 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (1 Sept.) 12:
1 Bitch, 4 years, suit parks or low hill, grand stylish worker, free from grip.

10. A handful or bunch of straw used in thatching. Also in Eng. dial.Abd. 1970 Studies to E. E. Evans 46:
Each bunch of straw was called a "grip", and a good thatcher would automatically pick up "grips" of equal size.

11. The "feel" of anything when grasped on the hand.Dmf. 1894 R. Reid Poems 214:
Ane [a letter] that, by the very smell And grup thegither, The toomest-heided loon could tell Was frae the heather.

12. With def. art.: 'the lump', the system of labour-only sub-contracting practised on some building sites. Gen.Sc.

 [O.Sc. has grip, v., from 1438, n., from c.1420; O.North. grippa, v., O.N. gripr, valuable treasure, property. In Mod.Eng. the word is found mainly from the 19th c.]

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



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