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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.

RUNG, n.1, v.1 Also roung; †runk (Rs.).

I. n. 1. As in Eng., a wooden spar or rail used mainly as a crossbar or spoke. Sc. combs.: (1) rung-backed, of a chair: having a back formed of wooden spokes (I.Sc., Cai., Kcb. 1968); (2) rung-cart, an early type of cart constructed of spars and having solid wooden wheels, freq. used to transport peat (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 146); (3) rung runner, an instrument used by joiners for rounding the handles of pitch-forks (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 155); (4) rung wheel, in a corn-mill: a spoked-wheel driven by a cog-wheel, a lantern-wheel or -pinion (see quot.).(1) Cai. 1929 John o' Groat Jnl. (25 Oct.):
An auld-farran roung-backed chair 'at he could whup his tail oot through 'e roungs fan he sat doon.
(2) Rs. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 I. 277:
There are about 300 small rung carts, as they are called, which are employed in leading home the fuel from the moss.
Crm. 1854 H. Miller Schools vi.:
To be removed, in the old man's rung-cart, to the house of a relation.
Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 26:
I min' fine on the rung cairts that war common in Dollas. The boxes o' them were made o' rungs wi' the roun' sides hacket aff a bit; an' they leukit mair like a big crate than ony ither thing that I can min' aboot.
Ags. 1903 T. Fyfe Lintrathen 40:
The cart most in use was the “rung cart”, in its most primitive form. . . . Two saplings were laid down parallel to each other, and sufficiently apart to give the horse room between; a sapling was fastened across both these at the thickest ends; another was put across at some distance but leaving sufficient in front for shafts; vertical holes were then bored in the body part several inches apart; hazel “rungs” were inserted in these holes; light saplings were bored to suit, and knocked on to the top points of the “rungs”; anything handy that would suit was then laid in for a bottom, and the cart was made.
(4) Rxb. 1825 Jam.:
As there are two wheels in a corn-mill which work into one another, the one which has cogs drives the other and is called the cog-wheel, the other, from its having spokes or rungs, is called the rung wheel.

2. Specif.: (1) a plough-stilt (Mry., Abd. 1968); (2) one of the three upright stays of a Solway Halve-net, q.v.(2) Dmf. 1795 Stat. Acc.1 II. 16:
Having the mouth of the net, which is fixed to the frame, opposed to the stream, and the points of the rungs fixed upon the bottom.
Dmf. 1967 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 457:
The haaf-back is a 15-foot crossbar with three “prongs” (known locally as “rungs”) some four or five feet in length.

3. A stout stick, staff or cudgel (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Abd.7 1925; Uls. 1953 Traynor; n.Sc., Kcb. 1968). Also in n.Eng. dial. Also fig.Abd. 1701 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) App. x.:
A great hazle rung of an ell long.
Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 12:
Death wi' his Rung rax'd her a Yowff.
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 270:
A good rung laid alongst my shoulders when I held down my head, made me soon learn to hold it up.
Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 107:
Tho' joints are stiff as ony rung.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Earnest Cry xxii.:
Auld Scotland has a raucle tongue; She's just a devil wi' a rung.
Slk. 1818 Hogg Tales (1874) 234:
She yerkit me wi' a rung till I squeeled.
Ayr. 1858 M. Porteous Souter Johnny 32:
Yet there ye sang, though neth the dred O' poortith's rung.
Fif. 1894 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin v.:
A stoot hazel rung, havin' a sharp pike in the end o't.
Kcb. 1913 Crockett Sandy's Love Affair ii. xiii.:
I'm whiles feared he will tak' the “rung” to him.
Mry. 1924 Swatches o' Hamespun 79:
[He] gart his rung ower Jock play fung.

Combs. and deriv.: (1) car-rung, see quot.; (2) gill rung, a long pole or staff used by leech-gatherers when agitating the water in a pool (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 227). Cf. Gell, n.4; (3) maskin run, see Mask, v.1, 1. (5); (4) priest's rung, see Priest, n., 6.; (5) rungie, a contemptuous name for a policeman because of his truncheon.(1) Sc. 1716 J. Burnett Crim. Law (1811) App. viii.:
A car rung, (i.e. a cross-bar in the bottom of a sledge).
(5) Ags. 1903 T. Fyfe Lintrathen 51:
When the constable went his rounds he was saluted with cries of “rungie.”

4. A branch or bough of a tree. Also in Eng. dial.Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis:
He risled their Riggins with Rungs, i.e. bastinado'd their back soundly with these cutts of trees.
Rxb. 1824 Rymour Club Misc. (1912) II. 48:
Come na back like a rung that is sneddit.
Sc. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1920) 144:
The rungs o' a fusionless tree.

5. A blow with a stick (Sh., Kcd., Ags., Slg. 1968), a thump or whack in gen. Cf. v., 2.Sh. 1899 Shetland News (8 April):
I gae da harrow teeth anidder rung wi' da hammer.
Abd. 1920 G. P. Dunbar Peat Reek 44:
Syne she gi'ed him a rung ower the chafts wi' her stick.

6. With various pejorative meanings: a cantankerous, ill-natured person; a weak, ineffectual person; an ugly, big-boned person or animal (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 146); a thin scraggy animal (Mry., Abd., Bwk. (rungie) 1968). Adj. rungy, lanky (Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Bwk. 1968).m.Sc. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 311:
Sapless rung! the witch o' Endor Scarce wad taen you wi' them a'!
Abd. 1873 J. Ogg Willie Waly 163:
She's aften described as “a din-raisin' rung”.
Abd.15 1930:
A peer rung o' a coo.

II. v. 1. To make or fit with spars or rungs. Ppl.adj. in combs. runged cart, a rung-cart (see n., 1. (2)); runged stool, a stool or chair having the seat and back formed of rungs (Cai. 1904 E.D.D.).Rs. 1779 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 170:
10 runked carts for peats.

2. To beat with a stick, to cudgel (Rxb. a.1838 Jam. MSS. X. 271; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 146; Sh., Mry., Kcd., Ags. 1968). Vbl.n. rungin, a beating (Mry. 1968).Kcb. 1828 W. McDowall Poems 69:
Ye should be rung'd wi' a birk.
ne.Sc. 1930 Bothy Songs (Ord) 402:
But woe betide poor grumphy's hide, for she got such an awful rungin'.

[O.Sc. rung, a cudgel, a.1540. O.E. hrung, id.]

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"Rung n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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