Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
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.

JENNIE, prop.n., v. Also -y, Jinny, Jean(n)ie; Genny-; Jen. Specif. usages of dim. or fam. forms of the proper names Jane, Jean, or Janet.

I. n. 1. A generic term for a country girl (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Abd., Fif. 1959). Phr. Jennie frae the Carlops, id. (Edb. 1955).Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 93:
There's fouth of braw Jockies and Jennys Comes weel busked into the fair.
Edb. 1821 W. Liddle Poems 227:
Siccan fun, I ne'er did see, Wi' Jocks and Jens, in sicca glee.
Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 73:
Some auld orra Jenny's [sic] were buyin a fairm.
Ags. 1886 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 158:
Supplyin' green kail an' whisky an' beef to the Jockies and Jeannies wha hae assembled.

Hence Jenny-Muck, Jinny-, a working woman (Crm., Mry., Bnff. 1919 T.S.D.C. III.); a female farm worker (Cai., ne.Sc. 1959).Mry. 1865 W. H. L. Tester Poems 128:
He truly is a nowte, Jock Hack, An' Jinny Muck's a randy.

2. A man who meddles with or assists in a housewife's work (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ayr. 1928); a man with effeminate habits (Uls. 1905 Uls. Jnl. Archaeol. 124, jinny; m. and s.Sc., Uls. 1959). Cf. Jessie.Uls. 1901 J. W. Byers in North. Whig v.:
Jenny . . . is applied derisively to a man who concerns himself with purely feminine matters, as, “He's a regular Jinny.”

Comb.: Jenny Wullock, a hermaphrodite, a sexually-deformed male (Gsw. 1934 E. Partridge Dict. Slang), an effeminate man (e. and wm.Sc. 1959). Used of a castrated bull (Ayr. 1959), a lamb with undescended testicles. Wullock is a dim. form of Will(iam).Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 156:
Whyles I was so stawed o't, I wished in bitterness of spirit that auld mother Eve had been a Jenny Wullock.
Sc. 1935 Border Mag. (Feb.) 19:
A boy doing girl's work had an uneasy row to hoe, having to suffer the mockery of: Hauf a laddie, hauf a lassie, Hauf a jenny-wullock.
Sc. 1991 Scotsman 2 Nov 2:
Some of the male lambs are not quite whole - they may, like Hitler have only one stone. Others may have stones that never drop but remain up in their belly. Known in the trade as Jenny Wullocks, these lucky fellows are spared the rubber ring - some consolation for their deformity.

3. A cranefly or daddy-long-legs, Tipula oleracea.Edb. 1928 A. D. Mackie Poems 30:
Deid 'oor o' nicht, Mochs and jennies Dunt the licht.

Gen. used attrib. in combs.: (1) Jenny-lang-legs (Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 254; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., Abd., m. and s.Sc. 1959), Jenny Longlegs; (2) Jenny Meggie (Lnk. 1897 Proc. Nat. Hist. Soc. Gsw. 191; m.Lth., Lnk. 1959); (3) Jenny-nettle(s) (Lnk. 1825 Jam.; Rnf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 150; Kcb., Dmf. 1959); (4) Jenny Speeder (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Kcb., Rxb. 1959); (5) Jenny-Spinner (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 282; Rxb. 1825 Jam.; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 150; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Cai., Bnff., Gall., Dmf., Rxb. 1959). Also Jenny-guid-spinner (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.), spinnin Jennie (Fif. 1959), and fig.(1) Ayr. 1823 Galt Entail xxv.:
A Jenny Langlegs bumming at the corner o' the window.
Abd. 1932 D. Campbell Bamboozled 24:
Aye, an' fyte mice, an' jenny-lang-legs, an' och! a' sorts o' nesty beasties.
Gsw. 1987 Matt McGinn McGinn of the Calton 171:
Her neighbour Jenny Longlegs
With jealousy was mad
She went out and bought herself
A pencil and a pad.
She came a month of mornings
And made a careful note
Of every step the centipede made
And this is what she wrote.
Gsw. 1994 Herald 30 Jun 9:
One teenage girl told how she believed her life had been saved by a jenny-long-legs. Jane Fry, 16, had been sitting in the front carriage where the deaths later took place, but convinced her friend Suzanne McNeill to move further back when a large jenny-long-legs began fluttering around the carriage because she was petrified of insects.
Sc. 2002 Sunday Mail 8 Dec 8:
Like most cats, she loves her comfort.
What's the oddest thing she has done?
She likes catching and eating Jenny Longlegs. She's a little thug.
Sc. 2004 Sunday Mail 19 Sep 42:
Earwigs have the scientific name dermaptera while Jenny Long Legs (or Daddy Long Legs in England) is the colloquial name for the crane fly or tipulidae.
(3) Rnf. 1870 J. Nicholson Idylls 9:
Jenny Nettle, spinning tow A' the worl's in a low.
(5) Sc. 1800 Farmer's Mag. 406:
Of the Diptera Class, and of that species known in the North by the names of Jenny Spinners, or Long-legged Taylors, etc., etc.
Sc. 1869 Carlyle Reminisc. (Froude 1881) II. 98:
She must have been the prettiest little Jenny Spinner (Scotch name for a long-winged, long-legged, extremely bright and airy insect).
Fif. 1869 St Andrews Gazette (11 Sept.):
Swarms of the fly well known in Scotland as the spinning-jenny.
Wgt. 1912 A.O.W.B. Fables 41:
A Jenny-Spinner, jimp an' braw, Ae day a low'in' caunle saw.

4. An iron chimney-cowl (em.Sc., Lnk. 1959). Cf. auld wife s.v. Auld, adj., 9. (24).

5. In pl.: calipers (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl., jinnys), applied to hermaphrodite calipers which have one leg with a short bend, the other being made with a sharp point (Sc. 1899 A. Mathieson & Sons Tool Catal. 55). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial. Cf. Jock, 3. (2).

6. The large intestine of a pig, used for making puddings (Fif. 1958). Cf. Jock, 1. (3).

7. Gen. Combs.: †(1) catch yer Jenny, a party-game, prob. some form of blindman's buff; (2) Jenny aa thing(s), a general merchant or her shop, usu. applied to a small shop run by a woman and selling all kinds of small articles or goods in small quantities. Gen.Sc., sometimes attrib. Cf. Johnnie aa thing s.v. John; (3) Jenny-cut-throat, the whitethroat Sylvia communis (Rxb. 1885 C. Swainson Brit. Birds 23; Bwk. 1889 G. Muirhead Birds Bwk. I. 57; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B).; (4) Jenny Forster, the female long-tailed duck Clangula hiemalis (Bwk. 1911 A. H. Evans Fauna Tweed 167); (5) Jenny Gray, -Grey, (a) the black guillemot, Uria grylle, in its first or winter plumage (Cai. 1887 Harvie-Brown and Buckley Fauna Cai. 241, Cai. 1911 John o' Groat Jnl. (26 May), Cai. 1959); (b) the wren, Troglodytes troglodytes (Mry. 1919 T.S.D.C.); (6) Jennie gull, the kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla (Ayr. 1895 R. Lawson Ailsa Craig 50, Ayr. 1959); (7) Jenny-guntick, the fatherlasher, Lophius piscatorius (Bnff. 1900–58; Abd. 1953 Edb. Ev. Dispatch (16 June), -funtick [sic]). Cf. Cuntack; (8) Jennie heron, the heron, Ardea cinerea (Kcb. 1878 Zoologist II. 428; Ayr., sm.Sc. 1959). Also in n.Eng. dial.; (9) Jennie-hun(d)er-feet (Cai., Per., Fif.), -hunnert-feet; -legs (Ork., Cai., Fif., Lnk., Kcb., s.Sc.); -taes (Per.), the centipede (Fif., Rnf. a.1850 Crawfurd MSS. (N.L.S.) J. 11; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also Jennie wi' the hunder legs (Ags. 1959). Cf. (12); (10) Jenny Lind, a type of fancy loaf, named after the famous singer (Fif., Lnk., Ayr., Slk. 1959). Used in second quot. of anything large and round; (11) Jenny Mac, the name of a girls' singing game, from the first two words of the song (see quot.); (12) Jenny-mony-feet, = (9) (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 91; Ags., m.Lth. 1959). Also Jennie wi' the monie feet (Ags. 1959); (13) Jenny-nettle, (a) = 3. (3) (Ork., m.Lth. 1959); (b) the stinging nettle, Urtica dioica (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Edb. 1959); (14) Jenny Reekie, see quots. (Knr.1 1948); (15) Jenny's blue e'en, the speedwell, Veronica officinalis (Abd. 1965 Press & Jnl. (5 July); Sc. 1968 Scottish Field (Sept.) 72; Fif., Lnk. 1975); (16) Jenny-spinner, (a) see 3. (5); (b) a child's toy, a tee-totum (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 282); (17) smoke Jinny, = (14); (18) tea jenny, see Tea.(1) Ags. 1889 J. Fotheringham Carnoustie Sketches 14:
Indoors also there was lots of fun [at Auld Yule], and although tea parties were not so common then, yet we had our games and sports, our “blind man's buff” and “catch yer Jenny”, finishing up with the cheese and bread; and, oh glorious! the piece of real, genuine shortbread and bun, to which we had been looking forward for twelve months before.
(2) Ayr. 1863 J. Manson Lyrics 285:
The new shop fu' o' braw things, And lang e'er night the Dyvour's wife Was nick-named Jenny-a'-things.
Lnk. 1897 J. Wight Scenes Sc. Life 66:
His wife Leezie started a small shop in the village, and sold many odds and ends; indeed, she got the familiar name of “Jenny a' Things.”
Sc. 1931 Border Mag. (May) 73:
In the Border hamlets and villages, as in other parts of Scotland, “Jenny A'thing's” shops were to be found.
Gsw. 1957 Bulletin (4 March) 10:
The wee Jenny A'thing shops which stay open till all hours serving a very useful local function.
(5) (a) Arg. 1919 Trans. Slg. Nat. Hist. Soc. 70:
Guillemots live entirely on fish. There is no evidence, however, that the food supply dear to “Jenny Grey” has shrunk in quantity.
(8) Ayr. 1913 “Kissock” Poems 50:
Whan Venus, luve's auld goddess, Cam', like a Jenny-heron, past.
(9)em.Sc.(a) 1994 Kate Armstrong in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 85:
Her deepest pleisure, in normal times, is tae sink a fork intae the soil, and feel its brief resistance afore crumblin apairt, daurk and halesome-smellin, tae reveal bronze-armoured gallopin jenny-hunnert-feets, black gleamin golachs, worms large and sma, while the inveesible benefactors, microbes, bacteria, enzymes, dae the amazin darg.
(10) Sc. 1907 J. Kirkland Modern Baker II. 168:
In Scotland a type of fancy loaf much more common thirty years ago than now is called a Jenny Lind, or shortly, a Lind. . . . This loaf is round and flat, and consists of top and bottom about the same size rolled out with a rolling-pin, proved in hot air on baking sheets, and heavily glazed with egg before baking.
Abd. 1951 Abd. Press & Jnl. (13 Nov.):
There had been considerable drifting, making the roads well nigh impassable. The day was very wild with heavy showers of “Jenny Linn” hailstones.
(11) Sc. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 260:
“Jenny Mac, Jenny Mac, Jenny Macghie, Turn your back about to me, And if you find an ill bawbee, Lift it up, and gie't to me!” Two girls cross their arms behind their backs, and thus taking hold of each other's hands, parade along together, by daylight or moonlight, occasionally turning upon their arms as indicated in the rhyme.
(12) Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xxxviii.:
The worm is my bonny bridegroom, and Jenny with the many-feet my bridal maid.
Ayr. 1890 J. Service Notandums 56:
There cam only frae't a muckle Jenny-mony-feet and a pluff o' bad air that put the cannle oot.
(13) (b) s.Sc. 1836 Wilson's Tales of the Borders II. 323:
You are as het in the temper as a jenny-nettle, woman.
Lnk. 1859 D. Livingstone in Gsw. Herald (14 May 1931) 4:
Gennynettles and puddock stools.
(14) Fif. 1830 A. Stewart Dunfermline (1889) 138:
The wild, tricky loons, who on a Halloween night would fill his house with clouds of smoke from their “Jenny reekies.”
Fif.8 1933:
The core of about six inches of the thickest part of a kail-runt or cabbage stem having been carefully removed there was left a firm fireproof tube which, when packed with tow, was that formidable instrument, a jenny-reekie. A hot cinder is applied to the narrow end and the tow ignited. The thick end is applied to the keyhole and dense clouds of acrid smoke are blown into the house. [A Hallowe'en prank at one time very popular among boys in villages and country towns.]
(17) Abd. 1879 J. Taylor 11 Years at Farm Wk. 31:
An instrument to do mischief, known as the “Smoke Jinny.” It is made of an ox's horn with a hole opened through the small end.

8. A game at cards, not explained, poss. Old Maid. Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick xxi.:
A speert fatna game'is frien likit best, Jinny. Three Caird Loo, Whust, ur Catch 'e Ten.

II. v. To henpeck, to domineer one's husband.Uls. 1901 J. W. Byers in Northern Whig v.:
He's a brave wee man, but his wife has him jinnied (jennied).

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Jennie prop. n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 22 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: