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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.

KNAP, v., n.2 Also knapp, nap(p), knop, noup; tnap, nyap (Jam.). [(k)nap, tnɑp]

I. v. 1. To knock, strike sharply, rap (Ork., ne.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth., Bwk., Dmf., Uls. 1960), to drub, to strike repeated blows (Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.), to hit on the head, to stun, fell; to tap (Uls. 1953 Traynor; Dmf. 1960); of a clock: to tick; in extended usage, of sewing: to work quickly and industriously with the needle. Now only dial. in Eng. Vbl.n. knappan, a knocking. Comb.: knapping-hole, “the hole [in the game of shinty] out of which two players try to drive the ball in opposite directions” (Dmf. 1825 Jam.).Rnf. 1813 G. MacIndoe Wandering Muse 48:
A tuip to knap, or hogh a nowte, Are heard o' now sae rarely.
Slg. 1818 W. Muir Poems 5:
Let the soutor girn an' gape An' knap an' spit, an' rub an' scrape, To fit the cloot.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals xi.:
Although Mr Punch himself was but a timber idol, he was as droll as a true living thing, and napped with his head so comical.
Bnff. 1823 G. Greig Folk-Song (1914) xlvii.:
And wha's that auld gyre carlin, Wi' a staff o' dead man's bane, That's knappin', knappin' through the ha'?
Ags. 1834 A. Smart Rambling Rhymes 136:
Whare she [clock] hang knappin' i' the neuk.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 199:
For sure as oughts his croon they'll nap, An' play his pouch a pliskie.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxx.:
I glowered ben the hoose where I had sitten sae lang an' knappit awa at the needle.
Hdg. 1876 J. Teenan Song 4:
We mind them weel — his lang black tawse — They nappit sair like parten's claws.
Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends x.:
On it [curling-stone] gaed thunderin' till it got amon' the stanes, knap-knappin' atween them, an' scatterin' them richt an' left.
Kcb. 1895 Crockett Moss-Hags iii.:
It was ever his wont . . . to knap his toes on the edge of the step, that the room floorings might not be defiled with the black peat soil.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 40:
"Ach, min, I'm yowden,"
he said, knappin his bauld heid.

Hence †(1) nappee, see quot.: ‡(2) nappy, peevish, snappish, cross (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Also in Yks. dial.(1) Rxb. 1889 J. Tait Border Ch. Life 147:
At an earlier period a class of officials, armed with long poles, waked up offenders with a more or less gentle crack on the head. From the nature of their occupation they were called the “nappees.”
(2) Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 86:
For though they've been wi' me but nappy, I'd like to see a' mankind happy.

2. tr. To strike (the heels) on the ground in walking (Ork. 1960); intr. to walk with short active steps, to patter, to move about smartly (‡Ags. 1960). Cf. Knype, v.1, 2.Edb. 1867 A. Leighton Romances 142:
No one displayed such ample folds of brocaded silk, nodded her pon-pons more jauntily, or napped with a sharper crack her high-heeled shoes, all to approve herself to the “bucks” of the time.
Ags. 1899 C. Sievwright Garland for the Ancient City 11:
Knappin' aboot fell knief, nursin' their bairns' bairns.

3. To break sharply, snap (Slk. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1899 Shetland News (19 Aug.); Uls.2 1929; Sh., ne.Sc., Fif., Bwk., Kcb. 1960); specif. to break stones for road-mending, etc. (Ayr. 1923 Wilson Dial. Burns 176; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. Ppl.adj. knappit. Also fig. Now only dial. or tech. in Eng.Bwk. 1801 “Bwk. Sandie” Poems 36:
Gif Monsieur's durk shou'd gie a sneg, Or aughteen punder, wi' a fleg, Shou'd gie a knappit arm or leg.
Gsw. 1820 J. Cleland Glasgow 107:
Three hundred and thirty persons, belonging to the Barony parish are at work in the Wester Craigs Quarry, knapping stones for the roads.
Sc. 1827 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 327:
A sair . . . head, amaist as if a wee deevil were sittin in't knappin stanes wi' an airn hammer.
Per. 1894 I. Maclaren Brier Bush 230:
Sandy Stewart “napped” stones on the road.
Sh. 1898 Shetland News (20 Aug.):
William wis grippid da grice dat hard ower da jaws at baith his lang teeth wis knappid.
Gall. 1904 Crockett Raiderland ii.:
On the moor itself whin-chat and stone-chat “knapped” among the gall-bushes, for all the world like stone-breakers in their little square niches by the side of the king's highway.
Ayr. 1912 G. Cunningham Verse 213:
Sannie himsel' Naps aff a bit [of toffee] wi' his knife and his mell.
Lth. 1921 A. Dodds Antrin Sangs 6:
Then for the by-roads whiles he knaps some stanes.
Abd. 1950 Buchan Observer (3 Oct.):
Roadmen, too, would leave their knapping of stones by the wayside.
Hebr 1998 Peter MacNab Tobermory Teuchter 98:
I often watched the men at work in the roadside quarries, extracting slabs of rock with crowbars and breaking them down with graduated weights of hammer until the final 'knapping' down into road metal.

Comb.: (k)nappin(g)-hammer, a stone-breaking hammer (Lth. 1825 Jam.). Gen.Sc. Cf. Knapper.Ayr. 1786 Burns 1st Ep. J. Lapraik xi.:
Ye'd better taen up spades and shools, Or knappin-hammers.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 116:
And napping hammers, poised wi' skill and pith, Mak dense and hard the highways.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 54:
Bailies rush'd out frae council-chalmers, Wi' halberts and wi' knappin'-hammers.
Sc. 1954 Scots Mag. (March) 454:
A man was working with a knapping hammer, breaking the pebbles and boulders into angular fragments.

4. To break or snap with the teeth, to munch, crunch, to eat greedily (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., Sh.10 1960), to gnaw, nibble, bite slightly (Sh.10 1952). See also Gnap.Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 52:
Some knapp't awa' at kebbuck-stumps, Some riv'd and ramsh'd at beefy rumps.
Sh., Cld. 1880 Jam.:
I was hungry, an' knappit up the cake afore he cam' hame.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De horses napp de ane de tidder.

Phrs.: knap-at-the-win(d), -for-naught (-nocht), n., v., (to take) a mere bite; “a cake or any morsel so small as only to serve for a mouthful” (Ork. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Abd. 1928 N. Shepherd Quarry Wood xvi.); fig., an utterly worthless person (Mry. 1919 T.S.D.C.), a weakling. See also gnap-at-the-ween s.v. Gnap, v., 1.Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 102, 211:
I dinna like a body tae knap at th' win', so I suppose ma nain han' is siccarest. . . .
Abd. 1933 N. Shepherd Pass in Grampians v.:
Has he forgot his good Scots birth that he thinks yon knap-at-the-wind ‘ll stand the kind of winter we get up here?

5. To speak with affectation, or in a clipped, mincing manner (ne.Sc. 1942; Sh. 1960), esp. of a Scots speaker aping “fine” English. Vbl.n. knappin, an affected way of speaking (Sh. 1960); the talk of a chatterer, or of one who is curt and snappish in speech (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 306), ppl.adj. knappit, clipped, affected. Cf. Crack, n.1, Crack, v.Peb. 1715 A. Pennecuik Works (1815) 330:
And English Andrew, who hath skill, To knap at every word so well.
Sc. c.1770 Tait's Mag. (1841) 515:
My good father had the common prejudice of our nation against what was then called “knappin' English”.
Peb. 1793 R. Brown Carlop Green (1817) 116:
Casting his airs, and knappan' fine Tae ilk ane o' the place.
Sc. 1800 A. Carlyle Autobiog. (1860) 298:
I found him a stiff, bad reader, of affected English, which we call napping.
Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 544:
She knapped English insufferably.
Sc. 1821 Scott Pirate v.:
Ye are so wise, . . . because ye knapped Latin at Saint Andrews.
Dmb. 1844 W. Cross Disruption xxxviii.:
I have grown more genteeler, and can knop English when I like as correckly as the Laird.
Kcd. 1849 W. Jamie Stray Effusions 147:
They're up the lift like bag Lunardi; Knappin' an' minchin' ilka wordie.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick ix.:
Ye wadna ha' guessed he was Scots by his tongue; but for a' his knappit English, an' his queer kind o' sing-sang way o' speakin . . . I likit weel to listen til him.
Sh. 1919 T. Manson Peat Comm. II. 174:
Every time du meets Lowra efter dis, dey'll be a knappin ipun hir, an a taakin aboot da motir run.
Edb. 1979 Albert D. Mackie in Joy Hendry Chapman 23-4 (1985) 44:
I could think - any, think! - in Latin, French, Italian
And even knap guid Suthron for the sumphs.

II. n. 1. A sharp blow or knock, esp. with a blunt instrument, a light, smart blow, a rap, a tap on the head, a knock (on a door), the striking of a clock (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Fif., Lth., Kcb., Dmf., Uls. 1960), a crack (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.), a pretended blow (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein).Sc. c.1690 A. Pitcairne Assembly (1722) 103:
One knocks rudely at the Door. Mod. That looks like a Malignant's knap.
Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 341:
When the Lady lets a Fart, the Messan gets a Knap. Spoken when one is blam'd for another's Fault.
Lnk. a.1779 D. Graham Writings (1883) II. 101:
There was a great big cat sitting in a weaver's window . . . I takes her a civil nap on the nose.
Edb. 1871 J. Ballantine Poems 19:
Down go the balls, the shinties strike pell-mell, Such knops and strokes the players give and take.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) xiii.:
[He] brocht a tin box doish doon on his heid. He got a gey tnap, I can tell you.
Wgt. 1896 66th Report Brit. Ass. 624:
“Gee a fat cat a bit knap”, i.e. give a fat cat a blow to stun it, rip it up and put it hot over the wound [adder-bite].
Bnff. 1923 Banffshire Jnl. (29 May):
Aye fan een got up Leebie gya 'im the ither bit knap, an' doon he gid.
Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 42:
A knappie wi' the haimmer here, An' it was fittin' fine.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 29:
Midnicht and the clock's knap
jows the slaw 'oor;
ilka note's a stane's drap
intil the smoor.
Arg. 1992:
An he had a stick, an he gied it a knap, ye see, on the heid.

Phr.: to cry or play knap, to go smack, to strike, knock, to emit the sound of a blow or knock (Sh., ne.Sc. 1960).Bnff. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 42:
That's the bit thingie that cried knap against my nose that hairst nicht.
Abd. 1960:
I wis makin' for the dresser in the dark when I played knap against the corner o't wi' ma knee.

2. (1) A snap, bite (I.Sc. 1960). Phr. to let knap at, to snap at; (2) a morsel of food, a “bite” (Dmf. 1825 Jam., n(y)ap; Sh., ne.Sc., Lth. 1960).(1) Sh. 1898 Shetland News (27 Aug.):
He made a run an' glaepid her wi' a knap o' his teeth.
Bnff.2 1945:
Fin he heeld oot his han', Rover leet knap at 'im an' skint his thoom.
(2) Sh. 1899 Shetland News (25 March):
“Willie 'ill aet ane tü.” “Na, no ae knap, mam.”

[O.Sc. knap, to strike, knock, c.1475, to break stones, 1648, to speak affectedly, 1581. Echoic in orig. Cf. Mid.Eng. cnap, knap, Du. knap, a knock, blow, Du., L.Ger. knappen, to make a cracking noise, to crunch, bite sharply, snap up, Norw. knapa, to eat quickly and noisily.]

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"Knap v., n.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jul 2024 <>



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