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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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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.

KNAPPER, n. [′(k)nɑpər]

1. A person whose trade is stone-breaking, freq. in comb. stane-knapper. Gen.Sc. Also in Eng. dial.Dmb. 1894 D. MacLeod Past Worthies 185:
A Hibernian Stone-knapper and his Cuddy. Once upon a time there dwelt within the confines of the parish of Cardross an Irish stone-breaker, who kept a donkey.
Lnk. 1913 Rymour Club Misc. II. 64:
Fiddlers, slaters, drovers and nappers, Dominies, sodgers, and lassies sae braw.
Lth. 1954 Edb. Evening News (7 Oct.):
Elderly country people will remember, too, the stone knapper, who broke up large stones into pieces small enough for road making. Machinery has replaced him entirely.
Arg. 1991 Angus Martin in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 9: Scream If You Want to Go Faster 124:
Mostly they look like the earth itself,
and perhaps the potatoes or carrots
you ate today contained
infinitesimally the physical residue
of a flint-knapper
or a Pict who was cut down
under a still and blood-red sky

2. A small hammer used by stone-breakers (Uls. 1908 Traynor (1953); Kcb.1 1931; Ork., Bnff., Ags., Fif., Lth., Dmf. 1960).Ayr. 1891 H. Johnston Kilmallie ii.:
Sam'l leant on his “knapper”.

3. A rap, a slap.Cai.9 1946:
If 'ee dinna haad yer towngue, A'll gie 'ee a knapper on 'e loog.

4. In pl.: a pair of sticks used in the manner of castanets, to beat out a rhythm either alone, or to accompany a mouth-organ or Jew's harp. They were six to eight inches long and were held between the fingers of one hand (Mry. 1935). Cf. knackers s.v. Knack, v., 1.

5. A block of wood hung from a cow's neck so that it strikes against her knees when she runs and discourages her from attacking others (Ork. 1975).

[From Knap, v.1]

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"Knapper n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 21 Jun 2024 <>



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