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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

SING, v.1, adv., n.1 Sc. †forms in pr.p. singan(d) (Sc. 1724 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) I. 202; Edb. 1773 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 142). Sc. usages:

I. v. 1. In combs. and phrs.: (1) singin-cake, a sweet biscuit baked and given to children on New Year's Eve in return for a song, recitation or the like (Fif. 1918). See Cake, n., 3.; (2) singin e'en, New Year's Eve, Hogmanay, when children went round the doors singing songs for cakes, etc. (Ags., Fif. 1825 Jam.). Cf. (1) above; ¶(3) singing-glasses, musical glasses; ¶(4) singing-keg, used jocularly for the chest or lungs, the vocal organs in gen.; (5) singing-lines, secular verses substituted for the authorised metrical version of the Psalm and used by choirs, etc. in practising the tunes; (6) to sing dool, to lament, bewail one's luck. See Dool, n.1, 4.(6); (7) to sing dumb, to be silent, keep “mum”. Gen.Sc. See Dumb, 1.(7); (8) to sing laigh, id.; (9) to sing quiet Maggie, = (7) (Ags. 1970); (10) to sing sma, to adopt a deferential or submissive tone or attitude, to “pipe down” (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc. and in colloq. or dial. Eng.(1) Fif. 1875 A. Burgess Poute 119:
A bun an' a cake o' shortbread to gie their neebors their singin' cakes.
Fif. 1894 D. S. Meldrum Margrédel Intro.:
About Hansel Monday dining at Oliphants' crowned the joys of singing-cakes.
(2) Fif. 1806 A. Douglas Poems 24:
Singin'-e'en she's owre aft seen, She's shakin' hands wi' fifty.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 62:
Fan Singineen time cam' roond, she gae a' the little uns a cake o' gingebread.
Fif. 1925 C. P. Slater Marget Pow 203:
We aye kept Singin'-e'en in Fife, and New Year's Day, but there was no' muckle nottice taken of Christmas.
(3) Slg. 1792 G. Galloway Poems 34:
To see Mr Cartwright's singing glasses.
(4) Kcb. 1789 D. Davidson Seasons 55:
Where not a ray Of ardent heat may spoil my whistle-pipe, Or cause my singing-keg to cast a gird.
(5) Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 208:
The singing-lines lingered longer there than anywhere else.
(6) Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 65:
The fum'lin' cuifs maun noo sing dool.
(7) Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 72:
Young primpin Jean, wi cuttie speen, Sings dum' to bake the bannocks.
Abd. 1966 Buchan Observer (31 May) 5:
Eence they see ye're singing dumb they'll ha'e nae trouble droonin' ye oot.
(8) Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce III. iv.:
That dumb-foundered me; so I was thankful to sing laigh.
(10) Sc. 1829 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 209:
We maun sing sma'. In a' things he's our maister.
Per. 1835 R. Nicoll Poems 112:
Then I maun sing sma', just to keep a hale skin.
Abd. 1895 G. Williams Scarbraes 23:
A poem over which the Critics would “sing sma'”.
Fif. 1926 I. Farquhar Pickletillie 217:
The kirk precentor — who, poor man, however loudly he might sing in the “box,” was made to “sing sma'” at home.

2. As in Eng., of a missile. etc.: to buzz, whizz in the air. Phr. to lat sing. to let fly, to hit out (ne.Sc., Ags., Dmf. 1970). Cf. II. and III.Abd. 1959 People's Jnl. (5 Dec.) 13:
The chiels ready tae lat sing wi' 'er nieves at 'er ain shadas.

II. adv. With a humming or whizzing sound. Cf. I. 2.Abd. 1958 People's Jnl. (9 Aug.):
Fan he yokit tae screw aff the [radiator] caip it gaid sing in the air.

III. n. A whizzing blow, a wallop, smack (ne.Sc., Dmf., Rxb. 1970).s.Sc. 1927 Scots Mag. (April) 4:
That Price needs a sing on the side o' the lug.

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"Sing v.1, adv., n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Apr 2024 <>



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