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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HANKER, v., n. Sc. usages:

I. v. To loiter, to linger, to hang about expectantly (Sh., Slg., Fif., Rxb. 1956); to hesitate (e.g. in speaking), to stammer (Rxb.4 1956). Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1792 Burns What can a Young Lassie iii.:
He hums and he hankers, He frets and he cankers.
Hdg. a.1801 R. Gall Poems (1819) 129:
Some lasses will talk to the lads wi' their e'e, Yet hanker to tell what their hearts really dree.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 259:
Syne at the stile she wad hanker a wee, Till the lads came up.
Rnf. 1873 D. Gilmour Pen' Folk 46:
Willie hankered awee this morning, I think, but there is nae wonner, for he got unco near the throne whiles.
Ags. 1899 W. McHardy Bonnie Montrose 83:
O! dinna hanker wi' the truth, Come, tell me like a man.
Sc. 1936 J. G. Horne Flooer o' the Ling 13:
An' as I hankered in a slap.

Hence hankerin(g), vbl.n., loitering, hesitation, indecision or doubt; ppl.adj., lingering, deliberate, hesitating.Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.T.Misc. (1876) I. 75:
And ay be in a hankerin swither.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry iii.:
Their bauldest thought's a hank'ring swither, To stan' or rin.
Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Pilgrimage 21:
The very human beings of these regions seemed distinct from their moorland neighbours, for, instead of the cold hankering look that accompanied the answers of the latter, they had free replies to their queries.
s.Sc. 1885 W. Scrope Salmon Fishing 217:
Peggy aiblins hadna likit my hankering aboot the throat [part of river] on sic a day.
Rnf. 1889 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers 61:
“The Church is his chosen people,” Katherine replied, “and yet I, wha belang till't, am beset wi' hankerings, whilk he chooses to lead me by.”
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 246:
He said we wad find that hankerin an' hingin on is a puir trade, an' that the man gaes lang barefit that wears deid men's shoon.
Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 88:
Your deliberations by this time must be fairly-weel matured. Mind ye, there's tae be nae hankerin'.
Per. 1904 R. Ford Hum. Sc. Stories 11:
Aifter a gude deal o' fleechin', an' hankerin', an' argy-bargyment o' a'e kind an' anither, it was finally resolved.
Ags. a.1914 D. H. Edwards Men & Manners (1920) 250:
The bidding is quick and keen, till a hankering takes place at £13. 5s.

II. n. Hesitation, pause (Ags. 1956).Ags. 1819 A. Balfour Campbell I. xiv.:
Forget and forgie! If ye were na as proud as he is, ye wadna ha'e sic a hanker about makin' the trial.
Rnf. 1862 A. McGilvray Poems 23:
As one who laughs at social wit, And laughs without a hanker.
Sc. 1892 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 382:
Then he read a chapter in Namey Nehemiah, an' never made a hanker.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts and Larks 192:
I sanction your coortship withoot the ghaist o' a hanker.
Ayr. 1901 G. Douglas Green Shutters xx.:
He blurted everything without a hanker.

[Not in O.Sc. Prob. the same word as Eng. hanker, Du. hankeren, to linger expectantly, to crave, but influenced by and prob. taken to be a freq. form of Hank, n.1, v., q.v.]

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



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