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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1960 (SND Vol. V). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

HECK, n.1, v.1 Also hek, haik, hak(e), ha(i)ck, h(a)ek, haike, †heake. [hɛk, hek]

I. n. 1. A rack or slatted wooden (or iron) framework. Specif.: (1) a rack of wooden spars for holding fodder, fixed to the wall of a byre or stable or secured to a portable framework for use when feeding sheep, etc. in the open. Gen.Sc. Also used fig. and attrib. in comb. heck-strap, a neck-strap used to secure a horse in a stable. Now obs. exc. dial. in Eng.Sc. 1710 W. Fraser Chief of Grant (1883) II. 93:
A litle timber grate at the bottom of the haick that so any dust that may be in the straw or hay may fall doune.
Abd. 1721 Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 89:
Its so low wee cant put up a hak which wastes the straw.
Sc. 1724 Treatise on Fallowing 52:
To his Work Oxen he gives only Straw, and beds them with the same; they are never housed, and get their Meat in a Fold at the Back of their Stables in standing Hecks.
Per. 1795 J. Robertson Agric. Per. (1799) 543:
A small hack full of fine hay.
Wgt. 1804 R. Couper Poems I. 238:
But be't na sae my heck is fu', My pot's ay on the fire.
Ayr. 1823 Galt R. Gilhaize I. xii.:
He . . . mounted into the hack, and hid himself among the hay.
Sc. 1842 J. Aiton Cleric. Econ. 212:
A collar of leather, or even a heck-strap, that is, a leather band two inches broad and a yard long, having an iron D for attaching a rope, and a buckle for uniting the ends, is to be preferred.
Per. 1895 I. MacLaren Brier Bush 296:
She 'ill hae her run o' heck an' manger sae lang as she lives.
Rxb. 1914 Kelso Chron. (11 Dec.) 4:
In giving hay in hecks or nets, they should only put as much in as they clear out in the morning.
Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 95:
I've had my last feed frae the stable heck, O' sun-drooked hay frae aff the meedow lan'.
Mry. 1955 Bulletin (11 Jan.):
The farm worker clumping about in hob-nailed boots filling troughs with neeps and haiks with straw.
Cai. 1992 James Miller A Fine White Stoor 12:
He broke open a bale of hay and threw lumps of the compressed grass into each of the cow's hecks.

Also used (a) in transferred sense = the ability to eat heartily, appetite (Bwk., Dmf. 1956). Cf. v., 1.; and (b) in phr. to live (dwell, gae on) at heck an(d) manger, to live extravagantly, in prodigal fashion, “in clover” (Mry., em.Sc.(a), wm.Sc. 1956).(a) Slk. 1947:
He has a guid heck.
(b) Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 109:
At hake an' manger Jean an ye sall live, Of what ye like, wi' power to tak an' give.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel v.:
I am not sure but we lived merrier in auld Holyrood in these shifting days, than now when we are dwelling at heck and manger.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Entail vii.:
The servan' lasses, lazy sluts, that would like nothing better than to live at heck and manger, and bring their master to a morsel.
Slk. 1829 Hogg Shepherd's Cal. I. 99:
Go home with him to his father's house, during the vacation, and there live at heck and manger.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xviii.:
Mony ane wha scrimpit themsel's to haud him livin' at haik an' manger.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 123:
At heck an' manger he gaed on, Forgat his hame an' ha'.

(2) A wooden rack suspended from the roof used for drying cheeses, etc. (Sc. 1808 Jam., haik, hake; Cai.3 1931); a set of open shelves hanging on the wall (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 225, hack); a plate- or bottle-rack (Sc. 1899 Mont.-Fleming 63; Sh., Cai., Ags., Peb. 1956).Abd. 1712 Abd. Jnl. N. and Q. VII. 179:
4 January — For makeing a cheise heake.
Fif. 1727 Caled. Mercury (18 Sept.):
Cellars with fix'd Bottle hacks and Drainers.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore 71:
A hake was frae the rigging hinging fu' Of quarter kebbocks tightly made an' new.
ne.Sc. 1862 Fraser's Mag. (Feb.) 155:
The whitewashed walls, and the earthenware plates and saucers which were suspended in a “haik” along them.
Sc. 1931 J. Lorimer Red Sergeant iii.:
The auld wives of the High Street put a new haik at their windows for the drying of clothes.

(3) A triangular frame studded with spikes on which fish are dried (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 73; Sh., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif. 1956). Also fish-hake (Sc. 1825 Jam.).Abd. 1742 Powis Papers (S.C.) 277:
A Skull and fish Hack.
Crm. 1835 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 279:
Here's a gay fresh codling on Nannie's hake.
Fif. 1894 J. Geddie Fringes of Fife 155:
These little East of Fife towns, from Earlsferry to Crail, are strung together like “herrings on a hake.”
Abd. 1920 D. Rorie Auld Doctor 4:
Wi' an auld fish-hake an' a great muckle skate, An' a lum hat wantin' the croon!
n.Sc. 1930 Scotsman (10 March) 7:
The wooden frame is called, in Angus, Aberdeen and Kincardine, a hake. It is a triangular frame studded with wooden spikes on which the fish are impaled through the eye. I do not think it is known in the South of Scotland.
Abd. 1992 David Toulmin Collected Short Stories 28:
Leaving a fish to dry on the hake by the kitchen door.

Hence Auld Haik(e)s, a name given to a fishing ground off the coast of Fife, †also applied to herring caught there; subsequently used in proverb. phr. to gang to the Auld Haiks, to go to the devil, “to be hanged,” with a pun on colloq. Eng. “heck.”Fif. 1710 R. Sibbald Fif. & Knr. 52:
Harengus Rondel, the Herring; the Fishers call some of them “Old Haiks.”
Fif. 1774 Caled. Mercury (10 Sept.):
There has been a most surprising tack of herring at the Auld Haiks, or bay of Balcommie, ever known.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xv.:
“Ye can gang to the Auld Haiks for ought we care,” quoth Peggy, . . . an' tossin' her head as heigh as ye like.
Fif. 1900 S. Tytler Jean Keir 102:
The shoals may be here to-day and gone to-morrow. The “auld hakes,” which they have favoured as a breeding station for as far back as the memory of the oldest inhabitant can stretch, may be deserted in a night.
Fif. 1914 P. Smith The Herrin' (1951) 19:
And when the herrin' came galore, As come they did, in the Auld Haikes, They filled the hould, in twa or three shakes.

(4) A wooden or iron grating placed across or in a stream or watercourse or at a mill-dam to obstruct the passage of fish or rubbish without checking the flow of water; also to prevent salmon leaping into a dam or weir or to deter sheep from straying along the bed of a stream (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., ne.Sc., Gall., Dmf., s.Sc. 1956).Sc. 1762 Faculty Decis. III. 222:
There are very few instances of hecks placed horizontally in Scotland, but most of them are perpendicular.
Ags. 1772 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (12 Feb. 1794) App. 2:
When in forbidden time the cruives are taken away, the defender is not intitled to fill up, with loose stones or other materials, the hecks or places from whence they are so removed.
Dmf. 1830 W. Bennet Traits Sc. Life III. 182:
He soon tossed the whole of the hay into the stream, which he knew could carry it no farther than a water-gate in the march-dyke at the foot of the bog, as in that gate was placed a wooden heck, between the ribs of which nothing that was very bulky could pass.
Sc. 1871 Session Cases (1870–71) 412:
The heck or grating at the mouth of the tunnel became choked by stones.
Rxb. 1920 Kelso Chron. (20 Aug.) 2:
The body was not recovered until it reached the heck at Ladylaw Mills.
Dmf. 1927 J. Mothersole Roman Scotland 221:
A wooden heck, to keep the sheep from straying along the bed of the stream, dangles by long wires from the top of the arches.
Ags. 1947 Scotsman (6 Dec.) 7:
A grating (or hake, as they call it) is slanted across the lade . . . the eels take the line of least resistance, and enter a pipe fixed in the bank in which a flow of water is diverted.
Abd. 1951 Abd. Press and Jnl. (4 Dec.) 6:
The immediate cause of the flooding . . . was the blocking of the hakes on the Newlands Burn and the West Burn . . . by twigs and leaves.

(5) An iron grating in a street gutter above a sewer.Wgt. 1810 G. Fraser Sketches (1877) 81:
The Scavengers are particularly to keep down all grasses and weeds upon the main streets, keep the syvors sunk, runners and iron hecks thereon always clear and clean.

(6) A framework of wooden bars attached to the sides of a cart to enable it to take a higher load, as of hay (Abd., Mearns 1956); the long sloping front of a peat-barrow (Abd. 1956).Dmf. 1891 J. Brown Hist. Sanquhar 296:
The carriers' carts . . . conveyed heterogeneous loads of merchandise, composed largely of small parcels, which were kept from falling off by a square wooden “heck,” tied on the top of the heavier goods.
Abd. 1949 Abd. Press and Jnl. (13 Oct.):
2 Tractor Carts with sides and haikes.

(7) Comb.: heck-door, a hatch-door, a door which is divided into two horizontally (w.Sc. 1825 Jam.).Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 114:
The other part of the building was occupied by the cattle, which generally entered by the same door with the family, the one turning to the one hand by the trans-door . . . and the other turning the contrary way, by the heck-door to the byre or stable.

2. The toothed part of a spinning-wheel, by which the spun thread is conducted to the bobbin (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 259; Lth. 1825 Jam., haik, hake); the corresponding part of a warping machine; in jacquard weaving, a frame fitted with wires through which the harness cords or wires pass (Fif.3 1930). Ppl.adj. hecked, having a heck. Also fringe-hake, “a small loom on which females work their fringes” (Lth. 1825 Jam.).Sc. 1807 J. Duncan Art of Weaving I. 7:
The heck . . . consists of a number, generally 120 or more, of steel pins, with a round hole or eye in the upper end of each, through which a thread passes in the process of warping.
Dmf. 1829 E. Irving Anniversary 283:
I observed that her spinning wheel was of the upright construction, having no heck, but a moveable eye which was carried along the pirn by a heart-motion.
Per. 1835 J. Monteath Dunblane Trad. 75:
The Muckle Wife . . . reclining forward over her heck, and eyeing him sternly.
wm.Sc. 1837 Laird of Logan 195:
They were as big as you, Bauldy, wi' their quiles o' yarn on their backs, and their hecks trantling ower their shouthers.
Ags. a.1893 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) XV. 401:
As weel from weaver bodies take Twa best knags out o' ilka haik.
Fif. 1952 P. K. Livingstone Flax, etc. 3:
Before 1700 a wheel for spinning with both hands was not known, but towards the end of the eighteenth century “double-hecked” spinning wheels were in universal use.

3. A metal hook or loop on a scabbard through which the sword-belt passed (Inv. 1744 Trans. Inv. Scientif. Soc. I. 235).Sc. 1707 P.S.A.S. XXIV. 53:
At the mouth of the scabbard opposite to the heck is a large square plate of silver enambled purple.
Sc. 1722 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 158:
Therteen pund Scots for dressing the toun oficers and Gorball oficer cutlesses with new scaberts, cramps and hacks.

4. The slanted face on certain types of ridge-shaped tombstones on which the inscription is usually carved (Abd.27 1950).

II. v. 1. To eat greedily (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Edb., Ayr., Rxb. 2000s). Hence hecker, a gourmand, a hearty eater (Watson; em. And s.Sc. 1956); vbl.n. hecking (Slg.1 1929); ppl.adj. weel-heckit, well-fed.Slk. 1823 Hogg Perils of Woman II. 226:
They're geyan weel heckit beasts.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 261:
A fiend of a hecker was Lang Young Tam, Aschets o' staiks were his quarry.
Rxb. 1916 Kelso Chron. (31 March) 2:
One of them remarked — “I believe the Huns are terrible boys to heck.” “Fond of their grub?” “That's so.”
Edb. 2000:
Baith ma laddies are guid heckers.

2. To work a fringe on a small loom. Cf. n., 2. Hence vbl.n. hecking, fringes for beds, etc. (Abd. 1767 Abd. Journal (22 June)).Sc. 1752 Caled. Mercury (6 April):
All Sorts of Sowing Flack and Raw Silk . . . Gold and Silver Twitchers, Snarlings . . . where likewise Beds are heck'd.
Sc. 1777 Ib. (21 May):
Mrs Oliphant in Dysart continues the taking in young ladies at 4 l. the quarter, where they are taught . . . hakeing, knotting, crimping, embroidery, lace, tambour, and all kinds of points.

[O.Sc. hek(e), heck, hai(c)k, hayik, n. in sense 1. (1) from 1497, (2) 1689, (3) from 1609, (4) from 1424, 2. from 1502. North. Mid.Eng. hek(e), hecke, from O.E. hec, a rack, in comb. fōdder-hec, hæc, M.L.Ger. heck, L.Ger. and Du. hek, fence, rail, gate.]

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"Heck n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 29 May 2024 <>



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