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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.

SPAINGIE, n., v. Also spaigney, spainyie, spanzie, speenie, spengie, spengyie, speyngie, spenyi, spingy. Sc. form of Eng. Spain. [′speŋ(j)i, †′speɲi]

I. n. 1. Freq. used attrib. and so practically with adj. force = Spanish, belonging to Spain, of a Spanish breed. In 1701 quot. used transf. as a pet-name for a Spanish cow. Now almost obs.Sc. 1700–1 Foulis Acct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 280, 295:
To tonie to take the Spanize Kow to the bull. . . . For bulling young spanzie.
Sc. 1735 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) III. 235:
A Treasure that befar excells hoards howkit out of Spanzie fells.

Special combs.: (1) spengyie cane, Spanish cane, a kind of flexible reed grown in the former Spanish colonies of the West Indies and used for the reeds of looms, musical instruments and other purposes, sometimes applied more gen. to any cane, e.g. bamboo or malacca. See 2.; also smoked by boys as a substitute for tobacco (Sc. 1904 E.D.D.); (2) spainyie-flee, the Spanish fly, cantharis, used esp. for blisters and plasters (Sc. 1825 Jam.); (3) speenie reed, = (1); (4) spaingie stick, = (1), used in quot. of a conductor's baton; (5) spaingie-wa(a)n, = (1) (Bnff., Abd. 1971). Also attrib. = lithe, lissom.(3) Fif. 1901 Sc. Antiquary XVI. 97–8:
The hesp, the spingy reed, and of many other things.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 58:
Olie wis geen at da sooth side o' da Horse Hadd ta save some speenie reeds it he saa laandin.
(4) Abd. 1887 [J. Cowe] Jeems Sim 30:
The taen for wagin the spaingie stick an' the tither for rositin the cat strings o' the fiddles.
(5) Bnff. 1851 Banffshire Jnl. (25 April 1916) 3:
The tawse and the “spaingie wan'” could be endured and forgotten when the “dirl” left the fingers.
Abd. 1880 G. Webster Crim. Officer 27:
He wud a' not something starker in 's han's nor a spengyie wan'.
Abd. 1918 W. Mutch Hev ye a Spunk 33:
Brosey Barney stood in's beets as straucht's a spaigney wan'.
Abd. 1955 W. P. Milne Eppie Elrick vii.:
It wis nae licht spengie wan kin' o' a chielie.

2. Ellipt. for 1. (1); a cane used for punishment, for stiffening a cap, as a fishing-rod, as a substitute for tobacco, etc. (Abd., Ags. 1971). Hence speyngie-like, like a cane, thin and flexible. Comb. spaingie-kep, a cap stiffened in this manner (Abd. 1970 Buchan Observer (7 April) 6).Abd. 1887 Bon-Accord (15 Jan.) 16:
A lang dwaibble chiel, wi' speyngie-like legs.
Abd. 1890 Bon-Accord (15 Nov.) 20:
The jaundice, brocht on wi' an over-indulgence in smokin' spengie.
Abd. 1902 Weekly Free Press (21 June):
An dinna think bit the dominie wis some hard wi' his spengyie.
Bnff. 1937 E. S. Rae Light in Window 22:
Wi' a herrin' net pyock on the eyn o' a spaingie.
Kcd. 1856 Mearns Leader (3 Aug.):
A brush an' spengie-like sticks that fit intill ither.
Sh. 1961 New Shetlander No. 59. 19:
No trail your flees oot owre da side an süne ye'll fin a twig At boos da spenyi laek a bow.
Abd. 1965 Abd. Press & Jnl. (23 Oct.):
Farm workers of that time used to wear a spaingie inside their caps to make them stand out like a big meat plate. A spaingie being a ring of thin bamboo.

II. v. To inflict corporal punishment upon (someone) with a cane, to cane.Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 48:
He'd play the truant fae the skweel an' steer up a' the bairns, An syne the maister spainyied him.

[O.Sc. Spanȝe, Spain, 1375, O.Fr. Espaigne, Spain.]

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"Spaingie n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Jul 2024 <>



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