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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.

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 6 Oct 2022 <>



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