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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

HURK, v., n. Also ‡hork (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); hoork. [s.Sc. hɔrk, hurk; Bnff. hʌrk]

I. v. 1. To sit in a crouched position on one's haunches, esp. over a fire (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., Rxb. 1957); to laze idly about (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 84; Kcb. 1957). With aboot, to move about in a sly, furtive manner (Gregor).Dmf. 1925 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 29:
I canna hae ye sit horking aboot the fire a' day.

Hence †hurker, n., a half-hoop of iron fastened to an axle-tree inside the wheel to prevent friction with the body of a cart (Rxb. 1825 Jam.), from its bent shape; hurkie, adj., of a person: lazy, slovenly in work; of a job: troublesome, unmanageable (wm.Sc. 1868 Laird of Logan Add. 505; Kcb.3 1929). e.Lth. 1807 Foords Acct. Bk. MS. 23:
Clouts hurkers for axil and a strop for do.

2. To grub in the dirt like a pig, fig. to poke about, to rummage (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B., ho(o)rk; Kcb., Dmf. 1957).Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 170:
But [the muse] horking howks 'mang epita's, Sin' Davie's dead.
Kcb.6 1919:
What are ye horkin' in the dirt for?
e.Dmf.2 1936:
He was hoorkin' in his pocket for a penny.

II. n. The act of lounging; one who does this, esp. applied to one who sits on the seat in the most comfortable position in front of the fire (Kcb.2 c.1930, Kcb. 1957).Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
He's sittin' in the verra hork. A prob. dim. of this is hurkie, the bib, Gadus luscus (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 84) phs. so called from its habit of lurking under stones by the shore.

[Mid.Du. hurcken, L.Ger. hurken, = v., 1.]

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"Hurk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 May 2024 <>



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