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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.

SPANG, n.2, v.2, adv. Also spyang; spong (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.); spung. [spɑŋ]

I. n. 1. (1) A pace, stride, long vigorous step, a bound, leap (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1929; I., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1971). Also in n.Eng. dial. For combs. back-spang, fire-spang, thraw-spang, see Back-spang, Fire, n., 7. (30), Thraw, n.1, 6. Dim. spangie in comb. langie-spangie, a game consisting in the throwing of heavy balls along a road (see Hainch, n., 2., v., 1., and 1904 quot.). Phrs.: loupy for spang, by leaps and bounds. See Lowp, n., 1. Phrs.; to play spang, to leap; to put a spang in one's speed, to hurry, quicken one's pace.Ags. 1776 C. Keith Farmer's Ha' 13:
Ben the gudeman comes wi' a spang.
Peb. 1805 J. Nicol Poems II. 16:
The racers skelp alang, An' seem to swallow up the ground, Wi' mony a lengthen'd spang.
Sc. 1817 Scott Rob Roy xxviii.:
Set roasted beef and pudding on the opposite side o' the pit o' Tophet, and an Englishman will mak a spang at it.
Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) I. 134:
To see ane [a tiger] play spang upon you frae a distance o' twenty yards.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 129:
Wi' that he gae a muckle spang.
Kcb. 1893 Crockett Raiders iv.:
Little Jerry came up the hill in great spangs.
Abd. 1904 E.D.D.:
Langie spangie is played with ‘muckle bools' straight out, e.g. along a road, it may be, for miles.
Edb. 1915 J. Fergus The Sodger 27:
Frae there he'll mak' at me a spang.
Uls. 1929 M. Mulcaghey Ballymulcaghey 31:
Ivery spang he made the dust was risin' in clouds.
Bnff. 1965 Bnff. Advertiser (19 Aug.) 4:
I pickit 'er up in ma airms an' took a spang ower tae the first stane.

(2) by extension: a “step,” a fair distance; a sizeable amount.Slg. 1795 G. Galloway Elegy W. Graham 11:
You demand frae me a sang . . . I ha'e sent you a gey bit spang.
Edb. 1869 J. Smith Poems 6:
Frae Land's End, on to Wuddislee (A denty spang, 'tween you an' me).

2. A fillip, a smart rap, a sharp blow (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis; Cld. 1880 Jam.).

II. v. 1. intr. To stride out vigorously, to walk with long steps, to leap, bound, spring (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 432; Dmf. 1894 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. 155; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; I., n.Sc., Ags., Per., 1971), to “jump to it”. Also fig. Combs. and derivs. spanged-out, ppl.adj., of a stride: long, extended, bounding; spangie, adj., used subst., an animal given to leaping (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 433); spangin, nimble, lissom.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) II. 60:
When they spang o'er Reason's Fence.
Abd. 1748 R. Forbes Ajax 15:
Right souple cou'd he spang.
Ayr. 1786 Burns Holy Fair MS. vii.:
There swankies young, in braw braidclaith, Are spangin owre the gutters.
Rxb. 1821 A. Scott Poems 166:
They're grown sae sly they winna hook, But spangs out o'er his catching crook.
Sc. 1822 Scott F. Nigel v.:
The horse spangs on end.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 55:
Sic a spangin clever hizzie.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin iii.:
Comin' spangin' doon the Loan.
Bnff. 1889 Banffshire Jnl. (31 Dec.):
The jockeys haddin' at the pleuch Cam' spyangin' ower to see.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond Bawbee Bowden (1922) 124:
He set a cabbage stock spungin' through the face o' the clock.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road vi.:
It was a mountain step that Ninian had — spanged out and supple.
Bnff. 1929:
If I gee ye wi' my fit, I'll gar ye spung.
Sh. 1950 New Shetlander No. 20. 27:
Ah'll be da first ta spang ashore.
Abd. 1964 Abd. Press & Jnl. (3 Oct.):
There are no pylons to spang across its wastes.
m.Sc. 1988 William Neill Making Tracks 9:
Thay spanged oot frae yon gallus, coorse Valhalla,
like rowan-berries fufft frae yarra-shanks
t' Election's Paradise against thair wulls.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 48:
His unspoken words I'd gie shape
or he spangs no in silence but wi a tongue
ripe for glee and the words he cuidna say
are heard abuin aa as gin a muckle bell rung
gaudy aumous!
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 41:
Syne oot he spangs, his sark an cwyte an hat again he siks
An tirrs up tull his middle, castin wivven draars and briks.

2. tr. To cross with a stride or bound; to make one's way by leaping or in haste. Also in Yks. dial.; to measure by pacing (Sh., n.Sc., Ags., Per. 1971). Also fig.Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 10:
Ditches he spang'd or wat or dry.
wm.Sc. 1949 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 125:
He raced across the highroad, spanged his way through the fence.
Bnff. 1957 Bnff. Advertiser (7 Nov.):
We'll spang oot the first misherment.

3. To throw with a jerk or sudden movement, to pitch, toss, flick. Phr. to spang up, of food: to eat hurriedly, to gobble up, “shovel in”. Comb. spang-cockle, a game involving the flicking of a nut from the forefinger. Cf. Spanghew.Sc. 1828 Scott F. M. Perth xi.:
‘Can you play at spang-cockle, my lord?' said the Prince, placing a nut on the second joint of his forefinger, and spinning it off by a smart application of the thumb.
Abd.15 1950:
Noo, littlins, spang up the speen mait, the breid it'll keep.

III. adv. With a leap or bound. Phr. to go spung, of a ball: to bound, bounce, fly.Abd. 1844 P. Still Poems & Songs 92:
As spang across th' affrighted stream Cam' Satan, wi' a fiendish scream.
Ags. 1894 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy (1899) 78:
Instead o' sendin' the ba' to the wickets, it gaed spung ower.

[O.Sc. spang, a jerk, to jerk, spring, 1513, to propel, 1662. Orig. prob. imit.]

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"Spang n.2, v.2, adv.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 4 Mar 2024 <>



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