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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

SAP, n.2, v.2 Also sapp. Gen.Sc. form of Eng. sop. See P.L.D. § 54.

I. n. In pl.: pieces of bread soaked or boiled in milk, ale, gravy or the like, often given as food to children (Rxb. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.). Gen.Sc. Hence ale-saps, butter-saps.Fif. 1731 Two Students (Dickinson 1952) lxvi.:
When they have fish they have also sapps of wheat Bread & ale for Broth.
Mry. 1756 Session Papers, Cramond v. Allan (17 Dec.) 20:
She call'd for some ale, bread and butter, to make some sapps for the pursuer.
Kcb. 1815 J. Gerrond Poems 116:
Wi' saps I played slorp like a snipe.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
Ale-saps, wheaten bread boiled in beer; when butter is added, this mess is called butter-saps. This is commonly given as a treat, among the vulgar, at the birth of a child.
Edb. 1828 M. & M. Corbett Tales and Leg. III. 204:
“Gruel”, she rejoined, “hadnae ye ale-saps yesterday?” “Worse and worse; saps of all kinds are my abhorrence.”
Gsw. 1898 D. Willox Poems 242:
M'Neil, who had been instrumental in bringing the exchange of civilities about, relished the result like unto a wean taking saps.
Fif.1 1937:
A boy, who was incautious enough to tell his schoolmates that he always had breadand-milk for supper, had ever afterwards to submit to the nickname of “Sapps”.
Abd. 1952 (Coast):
Porter saps. Warmed porter poured over a “soft biscuit”. Commonly taken by fishermen who had become very chilled standing about waiting for a change of weather, if conditions for seagoing were uncertain.
Edb. 1998:
Ma mother aye ate saps - she'd nae teeth!

Hence adj. sapsy, like saps, soft, sloppy, lit. and fig., effeminate (Per., Slg., wm.Sc., Dmf. 1969), also as a n. a soft, weak-willed, characterless person (Fif., wm.Sc. 1969).Dmb. 1931 A. J. Cronin Hatter's Castle ii. iv., iii. iii.:
You made him a milk and water softie with all your sapsy treatment o' him. . . . The same great, blubberin' sapsy that used to greet and run to your mother.
Rnf. 1936 G. Blake David and Joanna vi.:
One of the good little boys, eh? . . . . You're a sapsy lot they're breeding nowadays.
Gsw. 1990:
Ah like him, bit he's a bit sapsy Wullie.
Sc. 1999 Herald 6 May 22:
His is sapsy English prose with a baseball cap on its patently unAmerican head.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 25:
'Aye. On ye go, son. Bleed yer sapsy liberal hert dry, why don't ye. Listen, if ye find oot he was a nice Christian buddy eftir aw, keep yer geggie shut or ye'll be oot o work again.'

II. v. As in Eng.: to soak, steep, saturate, lit. and fig. Ppl.adjs. sappin, soaking wet (ne.Sc. 1969), sappit, id. (Sh., Ags. 1969), of a boat when the timbers are soaked with sea-water (Mry. 1911). Deriv. sapper, an old herring-net sim. saturated, as opposed to a newly-barked one (Abd. 1969).Ags. 1821 A. Wilson Poems 7:
Weel sappit wi' the barley bree.
Edb. 1839 W. McDowall Poems 118:
[My Grannie] wha — at fourscore — did sap her clay Wi' cogs o' brose.
Rxb. 1847 J. Halliday Rustic Bard 138:
My hard brown shoon, wi' soles sair sapp'd by wear.
Hdg. 1887 Mod. Sc. Poets (Edwards) X. 333:
The sea is sappin' on the shore, the wind soughs thro' the trees.
Bnff. 1960 Banffshire Advert. (18 Feb.) 9:
A'm weet. A'm sappin'. A'm soakit throweither.
Abd. 1961 P. Buchan Mount Pleasant 58:
We crack aboot gear, an' the times that we've seen Fin the sappers cam' hame tho' the reid eens wis loast.

[O.Sc. saps, 1650.]

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"Sap n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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