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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

MARK, n., v. Also merk (s.Sc.), mairk. Sc. form and usages:

I. n. 1. In shooting: an aim; also used fig. Cf. Eng. mark, a target.Ayr. 1822 H. Ainslie Land of Burns 204:
Now Lord hae mercy on the man That Partrick takes his mark at.
Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd 197:
Ilka man took well his mark.

2. An insensitive spot supposedly placed on the body of a witch by the Devil as a mark of his possession. Also the Devil's mark, id. The finding of this mark was a point of conviction in witch trials. Hist.Sc. 1705 J. Bell Tryal of Witchcraft 17:
The Witches Mark, sometimes like a blew spot, or a little tate or reid spots like flea biting, sometimes, also, the flesh is sunk in and hallow, and this is put in secret places.
Cai. 1719 C. K. Sharpe Acct. Witchcraft (1884) 193:
That upon a vulgar report of witches having the devil's marks in their bodies, Margaret Olsone being tryed in the shoulders, where there were severall small spots, some read, some blewish, after a needle was driven in with great force almost to the eye, she felt it not.
Sc. 1834 J. G. Dalyell Darker Superstitions 639:
Insensibility, or the absence of blood, on piercing the Satanic mark, betrayed its author.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 68:
A notour witch-finder . . . searched Bessie for the mark, as the poor ignorant bodies ca'd it, and which every witch was supposed to have.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xvi.:
The pricker fand the Deil's mark on her back, and stappit a preen intil it up to the head and nae bluid came.

3. A figure of note, a prominent person (Sh. 1962).Sh. 1898 Shetland News (9 April):
Lowrie wis den a mark i' da kirk.

4. Combs. and phrs.: (1) mark nor burn, not a trace or vestige (see quot.); (2) mark o' mense, see Mense; (3) markstane, a boundary stone set up to mark the limits of a property (I.Sc. 1962). See March; (4) to wear somebody's marks, to bear the physical signs of having been beaten by someone.(1) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 337:
When one loses anything and finds it not again, we are said to never see mark nor burn of it again; it is a shepherd's phrase, as he burns the sheep with a red hot iron on the horns and nose, to enable him to know them.
(3) Sh. 1822 S. Hibbert Descr. Shet. 35:
It[mark]s exact limits being described by loose stones or shells, under the name of Merkstones or Meithes.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 338:
Markstanes — Stones set up on end for marks in the days of yore, that farmers might know the marches of their farms, and lairds the boundaries of their lands.
Sc. 1834 H. Miller Scenes & Leg. (1874) 218:
My wee bit o' a yard was growing littler and littler ilka season. . . . I just thought I would keep watch, and see wha was shifting the mark-stanes.
(4) Kcd. 1884 D. Grant Lays 7:
“Tak' that”, quo' he, “ye careless shard. I'se gar ye wear my marks.”

II. v. Sc. forms of Eng. mark.Ags. 1990 Raymond Vettese in Hamish Whyte and Janice Galloway New Writing Scotland 8: The Day I Met the Queen Mother 141:
He'd gae then, nae bather, but at the laist aye turnt an' yelloched: Ye'll miss me, ye ken, ye'll aa be sorry, mairk this, whan I'm deid.
Dundee 1994 W. N. Herbert in James Robertson A Tongue in Yer Heid 158:
But he hud a pack o cairds, so he pleyed patience. Aw the time. And the warder didnae like him, so he pit him in the dark. But Patience hud mairked the pack wi his thumbnail. So he pleyed oan.
m.Sc. 1997 Tom Watson Dark Whistle 51:
Thir's auld yins gaun aboot
That's jist the same. - A'
Mid-week the caird's no merked
But perfect sixes aye drawn oot
Oan Sundays. Aye, yer maw!

Sc. usages:

1. To note down, to take note of in writing. Gen.Sc. Obs. in Eng. Freq. with doun.Ayr. 1720 Ayr Presb. Reg. MS. (24 Aug.) 59:
After reading thereof, the clerk was ordered to mark it accordingly.
Sc. 1828 Scott Journal (17 Feb.):
I cannot, I am sure, tell if it is worth marking down, that yesterday at dinner-time I was strangely haunted by what I would call the sense of pre-existence.
Abd. 1871 W. Alexander Johnny Gibb xviii.:
Hooever, I markit doon a fyou particulars aifterhin, to be siccar wi' 't.
Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle iii. ii.:
They wad go to the village grocer's for their gin and get it marked to the book as soap.

2. In shooting: to take aim (Kcd., em.Sc., Ayr. 1962).Lth. 1801 J. Thomson Poems 86:
Baith far an' near this lad is ken'd That he can mark right fair.

3. Ppl.adj. marked, notable, distinguished, without the derogatory implications of Eng. usage of the word (Sh., Cai., Fif., Edb., Kcb. 1962).Sc. 1876 S. R. Whitehead Daft Davie 324:
He's come o' a gude stock . . . The Livingstones o' this parish were marked men in the auld days.

4. Phrs.: (1) to mark a finger (up)on, to imprint a blow on, to harm in any way, “to lay a finger on” (Bnff., Uls. 1962). Cf. (3); (2) to mark (a foot to) the ground, to set foot on the ground (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Kcb., Uls. 1962); to stand; (3) to mark (up)on, to make an impression upon. Cf. (1).(1) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111:
Gehn ye mark a finger on 'im, a'll gee ye yir cum-agehn.
(2) Ayr. 1787 Burns Letters (Ferguson) No. 163:
My limb now allows me to sit in some peace; to walk I have yet no prospect of, as I can't mark it to the ground.
Cld. 1880 Jam.:
He is sae weak that he canna mark a fit to the grund. He's beginnin' to recruit, for he can now mark his fit to the grund.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
“He could hardly mark the ground”: said of a horse that was very lame.
(3) Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111:
Twa men vrought a hail day tryin' t' brack that big haithen stane; bit they cudna mark upon't (or on't).

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"Mark n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Apr 2024 <>



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