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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

KNACKIE, adj. Also (k)na(c)ky, knakkie, nauky; ¶knacksy; gneigie (Sc. 1806 R. Jamieson Ballads I. 302). [′(k)nɑke]

1. Adroit, deft, ingenious, skilful (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Kcb.4 1900; Cai. 1902 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial. Hence knacky-handed, id. (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein), and reduplic. formation nicknackie, id. (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1714 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 15:
He was right nacky in his Way.
Sc. 1824 S. E. Ferrier Inheritance I. xv.:
Have you no nice, nacky, little handy work, that you could be doing at?
Dwn. 1844 R. Huddleston Poems 15:
How guileless maidens' witchin' smiles, Are aft disarm'd by nauky guiles.
Ayr. 1889 H. Johnston Glenbuckie xxii.:
She was . . . very knacky at laying out a corpse.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. viii.:
He's byous knackie at the shifts [in draughts].
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 99:
An' thank them for their service, An' fraise their knacky skill.
Dmf. 1915 J. L. Waugh Betty Grier xi.:
I'll put it on mysel'. I'm rale knacky wi' a brush.
Cai. 1931 N. Gunn Morning Tide ii. ix.:
Davie, again, was knacky with his hands and very obliging.
Fif. 1951 P. Smith The Herrin' 12:
Knackie baith wi' brain and hands.
wm.Sc. 1987 Anna Blair Scottish Tales (1990) 80:
'Heed me, Tam. Dae weel what you've been told, but let the rest be. You're that knacky at the stonework you'll maybe show the master up.'
m.Sc. 1999 Edinburgh Evening News 25 May 14:
Dinnae fash yersel if ye are having a wee bit trouble pronouncing Scots - a new tape to be sent to every primary school in West Lothian could soon mak ye knackie in the leid.
ne.Sc. 2003 Press and Journal 29 Sep 12:
Mak sure an get yer hauns on the knackie wee beukie o es eer's festival, haudin tae the claim o a "twa-wikk-lang splore o the tongue, sangs, music an traditions o oor byous Doric culture".

Hence ¶knackie-nick, n., a skill, attainment.w.Lth. 1889 F. Barnard Chirps 14:
The wildest gelding he could shae it, Work amang couters, socks, and harrows, Mak' graips, ring wheels o' cairts an' barrows, An' to croun a' his knackie-nicks, Was famed for sharpin' colliers' picks.

2. (1) Of persons: quick in movement, nimble, “nippy”, smart (ne.Sc. 1960). Also of animals. Also used adv. Slk. 1875 Border Treasury (20 Feb.) 343:
“I was saying thir breeks want a button.” “That makes nae difference to me,” said my aunt in her ain peculiar short, nacky way.
Mry. 1897 J. Mackinnon Braefoot Sk. 15:
On the day of the burial he turned upon the same functionary and told him to “look knacky an' screw 'er up.”
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 43:
An' knacky he pat on his hat An' nippet roon the neuk.
Abd. 1926 M. Argo Makkin' o' John 21:
It blecks a', lassie, the wye ye can gar yir feet gang. There's nae mony sae nacky.
Abd. 2000 Sheena Blackhall The Singing Bird 17:
Far corn wyved an girse stude heich
An lowin kye grazed knackie,
The gutsy toon claims aa aroon: Requiescat in pace.

(2) Of persons or things: trim, neatly-built, spruce, dainty (Mry. 1925; Abd., Ags., Fif., Lth., Rxb. 1960).Gall. c.1870 Bards Gall. (Harper 1889) 21:
A wean o' the Elfin race — knacky an' fair.
Sc. a.1879 W. McGonnagal in St Andrews Cit. (13 June 1934):
And o'er the stream there is a house right knackie, Of that grand old man, Professor Blackie.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig vii.:
She'll no be sic a nacky body gin she get married. Once a woman's a wife she has no time to be partic'lar about her clothes.
Ags. 1904 W. M. Inglis Angus Par. 162:
They had their bit bothies in the knackiest, cleverest spots ye ever saw in your life. Naething could surpass the Glenisla men in selecting the richt spot.
Rxb. 1942:
Of a neatly-built and very pretty girl — “She's a real knackie lassie.”

3. Witty, entertaining, lively and pleasant in conversation, facetious, quick-witted (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis s.v. knak; Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 97; Uls. 1929; Ork., Bnff., Ags., Lth. 1960).Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 123:
E'en mony a bonny knacky Tale, Bra to set o'er a Pint of Ale.
Lnk. 1808 W. Watson Poems 85:
It pat me fidgen fain to see, Yer knackie lang Epistle.
Per. 1816 J. Duff Poems 35:
A knacksy joake, wi' mirth an' glee, In prose or rhyme.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie iv.:
In the evenings, Andrew had recourse to the firesides of the gash and knacky carles and carlins of the village.
Wgt. 1877 G. Fraser Sketches 290:
He had stored his mind with many romantic tales of his travels, and his knacky way of relating these procured for him a hospitable reception at many a farmer's ingleside.
Fif. 1893 G. Setoun Barncraig i.:
Eben's a fine command o' language, no doubt, an' a nacky way o' sayin' things.
Sc. 1904 R. Small Hist. Congregations U.P. Church I. 293:
A writer in the denominational magazine many years ago credited Mr Dunlop with the gift of repartee or knacky remark.

[From Eng. knack, an adroit or ingenious method of doing something, etc. + -Ie. For 3., cf. also Knack, v., 3., n., 1.]

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"Knackie adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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