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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1965 (SND Vol. VI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

NAG, v.1, n.1 Also nagg, neg (Sc. 1887 Jam.); nia(a)g, nja(a)g, n(y)aag, and freq. forms njag(ge)l, n(y)aggle. See also Knag, n.3, v. [n(j)ɑg(l)]

I. v. 1. To gnaw, keep chewing at (Sc. 1887 Jam. naggle; Ork. 1929 Marw., nyaggle; Sh. 1963, nyaag). Only dial. in Eng.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
De dog njag(gel)s de ben.

2. To become sour or mouldy in taste (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1963). Cf. n., 2.

3. To work in a slow, laborious but assiduous manner, to toil (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1914 Angus Gl.; Sh., Ork. 1963).Ork. 1929 Marw.:
He was nyagglan at that boat and never makan a right job o' it.

4. As in Eng. (Sh. 1825 Jam., naag, 1866 Edm. Gl., niag, 1914 Angus Gl., njaag, Sh. 1963). Vbl.n. niaggin, constant fault-finding (Edb.). Hence naggie, cross-tempered, touchy, ill-natured (Rxb. a.l 838 Jam. MSS. X. 209), naggly, id. (Sc. 1887 Jam.).Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Da bairn was njagin at me a day.

II. n. 1. A gnawing (Jak.), a pang of pain; wearing, laborious toil (Ib., 1948 New Shetlander (March-April) 15, njaag, Sh. 1963); grumbling, importunity (Jak.). Used fig. in deriv. naggi, in a mill: a wooden block on the upper mill-stone, which acts as a clapper; the trough through which the corn runs into the eye of the mill-stone (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)).Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 38:
Wi dis croft wark, man, hits wan conteen-wal nyaag an slester frae moarnin, till nicht.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 46. 19:
A nyaag or twa o da rheumatics.

2. A sour, mouldy, or stale taste (Sh. 1963). Cf. Kneggum.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
Der'r a auld nagg wi' it.

[Norw. dial. (g)naga, (g)nagla, in varying senses as above, O.N. gnaga, to gnaw, Norw. dial. gnag, gnawing, negg, continual ache. Cf. also Eng. nag, esp. for sense 4. of the v., and Eng. dial. naggle, to gnaw, prob. ultimately of similar orig.]

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"Nag v.1, n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2023 <>



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