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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

ROCK, n.3 Also rok (Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.), roke (Dmf. 1836 A. Cunningham Lord Roldan I. iii.; m.Sc. 1872 W. Stevenson Yetts o' Muckart 24); dims. rockly (Abd. 1887 W. Walker Bards Bon-Accord 189) rocky (Bnff. c.1860 Scots Mag. (Jan. 1934) 288).

1. As in Eng., now arch. or liter., a distaff. Sc. comb., phrs. and derivs.: (1) rocker, one who participates in a social gathering or rocking. See (2); (2) rockin(g) a gathering of women from neighbouring houses to spin together and pass the evening in conversation; hence in extended usage, any gathering of neighbours, both men and women, for gossip or merry-making. Also comb. rockings meet, id.; (3) to come (go) with one's rock, to visit a neighbour's house, orig. for an evening's spinning, later simply for entertainment; (4) to have ((an)ither, nae, etc.) tow i' or on one's rock, to have (other, no, etc.) business in hand, purpose in view, material to work on, in 1828 quot. in regard to literary inspiration; (5) to cross the reef with the rock, see quot.(1) Sc. 1818 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 153:
He was esteemed the most acceptable rocker, whose memory was most plentifully stored with such thrilling narratives.
(2) Ayr. 1780 J. Mitchell Memories Ayr. (S.H.S. Misc. VI.) 288:
The other amusement . . . was of a social description called technically rockings meet, because I imagine it consisted originally of housewives or house-maids who convened on particular occasions perhaps by turns in one another's houses to enjoy a friendly chat, taking along with them their rocks, that is their distaffs or spinning wheels, that they might draw out a thread during the conference.
Ayr. 1786 Burns To J. Lapraik vii.:
On Fasten-e'en we had a rockin, To ca' the crack and weave our stockin.
Sc. 1825 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 62:
A' sorts o' deevilry amang lads and lasses at rockins and kirns.
Sc. 1836 Chambers's Jnl. V. 142:
At rockings (an assemblage of young people round a farmer's fireside, for the purpose of amusing themselves by reciting tales) much whisky is usually dispensed.
Lnk. 1885 R. Naismith Stonehouse 185:
A young man being out at a “rocking” one night arrived home somewhat late.
Kcb. 1890 A. J. Armstrong Musings 216:
He still gaed to weddin's an' rockin's.
(3) Ayr. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 VII. 613:
When one neighbour says to another, in the words of former days, “I am coming over with my rock”, he means no more than to tell him that he intends soon to spend an evening with him.
(4) Sc. 1721 J. Kelly Proverbs 182:
I have other Tow on my Roke. I have other Fish to fry.
Per. 1808 Letters J. Ramsay (S.H.S.) 222:
I thought brides had another tow in their rock than to correspond with old batchellors.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 20:
We've ither tow i' our rock, Than idly flingin' stanes at beggar fouk.
Sc. 1826 Scott Journal (9 Feb.):
I must say to the Muse of fiction . . . “Go spin, you jades, go spin”! Perhaps she has no tow on her rock.
Abd. 1920 A. Robb MS. ii.:
She has that tow in her rock [of a sweetheart, “a string to her bow”].
(5) Abd. a.1890 M. M. Banks Cal. Customs Scot. I. (1937) 4:
The wheel was set aside. Before doing so the rock with the lint was taken out of its socket, as one must not “cross the reef with the rock”, i.e. pass under the roof-tree with the wheel having the rock in position. If this were done the cattle would not thrive.

2. The quantity of flax put on a distaff for spinning.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Works (S.T.S.) 142:
How loot ye the low take your rock by the beard?
Sc. 1789 Shepherd's Wedding 12:
She fell asleep, and her roke took a low.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems I. 25:
Ere night, ilk lass maun end her rock, An' get her reelin doon.
Rnf. 1807 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 245:
Dorothy, dozen't wi leevin her lane, Pu'd at her rock, wi the tear in her ee.
Mry. 1851 D. Paul Poems 85:
Syne up he took a rock o' tow, An' doun he sat to try to spin.

3. With def. art., short for “The Rock and the Wee Pickle Tow”, the name of the song by Alexander Ross (see Works (S.T.S.) 141), played annually at the Riding of the Marches in Linlithgow.w.Lth. 1936 Lnl. Gazette (June):
The proclamation was read by the Town Herald, supported by Burgh Officers and a band of two flautists and drummer, who played “The Roke”, Linlithgow's famous Marches tune, from the east to the west end of the town.

[O.Sc. rok, distaff, a.1400, other tow in one's rock, 1694.]

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"Rock n.3". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 18 Jul 2024 <>



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