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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PICK, v.3, n.3 Also pic; peek-; pek (Abd. 1962 Abd. Ev. Express (9 Nov.)). [pɪk]

I. v. 1. tr. or intr. and absol. To throw, pitch, hurl, toss; to impel, thrust, drive (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Uls. 1929; Arg.1 1937). Vbl.n. pickin, the game of pitch and toss (Ags. c.1890).n.Sc. 1808 Jam.:
To pick stains, to throw stones at any object.

2. In marbles: to play with a pick or picker marble, to throw or impel one marble at another with force and from a height. Hence phr. to pick the ring, to scatter a ring of marbles by pitching a heavier marble at them (Ags. 1965). See II. 3. Deriv. picker, the marble used for this (Bnff. 1965).Abd. 1837 Abd. Shaver (Aug.) 371:
Councillor Gordon having just “picked” the ring at marbles.

3. In weaving: to throw or impel the shuttle across the loom (Ags., Fif., wm.Sc., Uls. 1965). Also in n.Eng. dial. Hence picker, n., a mechanism for shooting the shuttle across the loom. Also in Eng. weaving usage. Sc. Combs.: (1) picker lay, — loom, peeker-, a loom which uses this device, as opposed to the old hand-throwing method; (2) peeker pirn, a small wooden or metal tube which fits into a bobbin or pirn with a rather wide shaft, in order to reduce the bore and obviate jolting and unevenness of motion when the shuttle is impelled by the automatic picker instead of by hand; (3) picker-stick, = picker above (Ayr. 1965); (4) picking-arm, id. (Fif. 1930).Sc. 1809 T. Donaldson Poems 70, 137:
My pickers too, I want them sair, My shuttle swears she'll rin nae mair . . . So may your pickers gae nick-nack, Just like the pend'lum o' your clock.
(1) Ags. 1887 J. M. McBain Arbroath 121:
The “peeker” loom merited, and heartily received the supreme contempt of the genuine old “dook” loom, as being a mere paltry upstart.
Ags. 1894 J. D. Mills Jamie Donaldson 10:
Jamie . . . purchased a “picker” or “peeker lay”. . . . This “peeker” as it was called, made it possible for the weaver to produce nearly double the quantity of cloth he could do by the hand shuttle, and it also made it much easier to learn to weave.
(2) Ags. 1909 P. Carragher Arbroath 5:
Alick Carrie, better known as “Peeker” Carrie, for having carried the peeker pirns to the weavers.
Ags. 1957:
The peeker pirn is of very ancient origin and its use was to adapt bobbins or pirns from a large to a smaller bore; in other words. the peeker was inserted into the bobbin or spool of a larger internal diameter in the form of a bushing.
(3) Fif. 1901 Sc. Antiquary XVI. 97–8:
Five or six hand-looms of more or less ancient construction are already at work, and the talk over them is of . . . spindles and heddles, of winks, and nefflers, picker-sticks, and contra-merches.
Ayr. 1965:
Picker Arm or Stick: One at each side of the loom, actuated by its cam, gives a sharp pluck to a leather strap, the other end of which is fixed to a very hard leather buffer which slides on a rod. This buffer strikes the end ofthe shuttle and throws it across the loom.
(4) Ags. 1892 F. F. Angus Susie iv.:
He sailed out to restart his loom, which he attacked with such a vigour that the monotonous double click of the picking-arm . . . could be distinctly heard at the other end of the village.

4. With on, upon: to pitch on, fix on, choose, select (Sc. 1909 N.E.D.). Gen.Sc. Also in n.Eng. dial.Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 267:
The first twa that he picked on War Rab and Jock the Tar.
Edb. 1894 W. G. Stevenson Puddin iii.:
He picked on one of the porters waiting at the gate for a job.

5. Of a female animal, esp. a farm animal: to abort (her young), to give birth prematurely, miscarry (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.; Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.; Wgt. 1903 E.D.D.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne., m. and s.Sc. 1965). Also in n.Eng. dial. and in v. comb. to pic(k)-calf, id. Pa.t. piccalved. Ppl.adj. picked, of a calf, foal, etc.: aborted, still-born (Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 351, Dmf. 1950). Cf. II., 6.; of a ewe: having a stillborn lamb (Uls. 1953 Traynor).Dmf. 1777 Dmf. Weekly Mag. (24 June):
He sells the following Drinks for Black-cattle fellons, colds . . . red water, legburn, to make them clean after picking calf or otherways.
Arg. 1798 J. Smith Agric. Arg. 237:
A cure for the black spall and picking calf is much wanted.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 304:
So that none of the kye, the incoming year, may be guilty of picking-cauve.
Ayr. 1828 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 341:
In the course of seven or eight days, the cow picks calf, and she does as well for milking as any other cow which picks calf naturally.
Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 142:
That meir has pickit her foal.
Sc. 1849 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm I. 221:
Ewes in lamb . . . kept in a wet lair, will pick lamb, that is, suffer abortion.
Bte. 1922 J. Sillars McBrides x.:
She walked up the byre and ran her hand over the tors of the beasts, . . . and another month saw the last of the kye pic calved.
Peb. 1925 Scottish Farmer (10 Jan.):
A cold east wind and a bare tail may cause sheep to pick lamb.

II. n. 1. A thrust, pitch, toss; the act of throwing (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 261). Phr. to tak a pick(ie) at, in marbles: to throw or aim one marble at another instead of rolling it along the ground, to pitch from a height (Mry. 1921; Ags. 1965).Rnf. 1956:
A big one [marble] called a doldie was thrown from a mark with a view to smashing them out. If the player stepped over the mark he was said to take a pickie.

2. One who throws or pitches; specif. in stacking corn: the hand who passes the sheaves from the forker to the builder of the rick, the “pitcher”.Abd. 1951 Buchan Observer (4 Sept.):
What is called a “pick” is required to stand between the forker and the builder, and lay sheaf by sheaf within his reach.

3. A marble, usually of earthenware, which was thrown or pitched at the other marbles instead of being rolled, a pitcher, Plunker, q.v. (Bnff., Abd. 1965). Also peek(ie) (Bch. 1940), id. Comb. picker-button, the pitcher in the game of Buttons, Buttony, q.v.Abd. 1904 Wkly. Free Press (9 April):
Rolling the “pick” from a far stance and deciding who shall fire from short distance by the nearness of the various thrown marbles.
Ags. 1921 A. S. Neill Carroty Broon xiv.:
They riped his pooches . . . while the smaller boys scrambled for his picker buttons.
Abd. 1958 Abd. Press & Jnl. (22 Sept.):
And of course there was Bools, played round the lamp-post, with rosies, and peebles and picks and monkey-chippers.

4. The stone or metal counter in the game of hopscotch, a Peever, Pallall, q.v. Hence the pick(ie)s, the game itself. Also in Ir. dial.Lth. 1885 J. Strathesk Blinkbonny 33:
The “pickies” (or the “beds”, or the “Pall-all”), played with a flat stone on the pavement.

5. Specif. in weaving: one movement of the shuttle across the web, a pitch, cast (Fif. 1930). Cf. v., 3.Ayr. 1965:
The number of picks per inch is the number of weft-threads or shots per inch in contrast to the number of ends (of warp) per inch.

6. An aborted or stillborn animal, a “cast” lamb, foal, calf, etc. (wm. and s.Sc., Uls. 1965). Comb. pick-calf, -foal, etc., id. (Arg.1 1937). Cf. v., 5.Gall. 1925 Scottish Farmer (21 Feb.):
If these “kebs” or “picks” are left lying on the hill, it may cause a continuance of this sort of thing all through the lambing.

[From North. Mid.Eng. pykke, pikke, to pitch, corresponding to Southern pic(c)hen.]

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"Pick v.3, n.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jun 2024 <>



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