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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1971 (SND Vol. VIII).

SPRING, v., n. Sc. forms and usages:

I. v. A. Forms: Pa.t. sprang, sprung, sprank (Cai. 1891 D. Stephen Gleanings 87); pa.p. sprung, sprang.

B. Usages: 1. tr. To leap over, cross at a bound.Sc. 1825 Scott Talisman xxvi.:
He that would climb so lofty a tree, Or spring such a gulf as divides her from thee.
Bnff. 1856 J. Collie Poems 122:
I cou'd hae sprang a ditch as clean As ony stag.

2. tr. To put forth, send up or out. Obs. in Eng.Sh. 1899 J. Spence Folk-Lore 214:
An ill röt never sprang a guid branch.

3. tr. (1) To burst asunder, to split, break apart or into (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928); I.Sc., Cai. 1971); specif. to split the point of (a quill), to make a pen. Also in n.Eng. dial.Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 48:
Inspir'd ance mair the pen I sprung.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (9 Mey):
Whin da yaird is eence sprung, he haes ill bidin bracin.

(2) To strain to bursting, to overexert (Sh. 1866 Edm. Gl.; Cai. 1904 E.D.D.; I.Sc., Cai. 1971). Also refl.Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
He sprang de horse; he sprang a vein.
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
He tugged an' pulled at that till he sprung himsel'.

4. intr. To dance (a reel) (Ork. 1971). Cf. n., 4.Lnk. 1822 Clydesdale Wedding 4:
Young and auld they began a springin; Some hochen, some reelin', some wheelin'.

5. intr. Of milk: to begin to form butter in the churn (Ork. 1929 Marw., Ork. 1971).

6. In vbl.n. springing, grazing from the first grass of the season, spring pasture (sm.Sc. 1971). The word has prob. been formed on analogy with summering, wintering.Dmf. 1958 Dmf. & Gall. Standard (22 March):
Springing Wanted for six score Cheviot ewe hoggs, in one or more lots, from 1st April.

II. n. 1. The growth of vegetation, specif. in spring.Sh. 1787 J. Mill Diary (S.H.S.) 79:
The winter has been so mild and so little frost and snow, that the spring in the ground was as forward in March as it used to be in May.
Slk. 1822 W. J. Napier Store-Farming 58:
There appears to have arisen a great spring of natural florin.
Sc. 1831 Perthshire Advert. (17 Nov.):
The least fresh weather in winter, which causes a spring upon the grass.

2. Rise, ascent, slope, height (of an arch) (wm.Sc., Kcb. 1971).Sc. 1753 Scots Mag. (Aug.) 422:
The arch was fifty-five feet wide, and had but eight feet of spring.
Sc. 1886 Stevenson Kidnapped xxvi.:
Up the steep spring of the bridge.

3. See quot.Ayr. 1831 J. C. Loudon Encycl. Agric. 1046:
Putrifying holes, which in dairy language are termed “eyes,” whey-drops, or springs, frequently break out on the cheese.

4. (1) A lively dance, hence, more commonly, a quick lively tune accompanying it (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 160, 1808 Jam.; Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 179; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson). Gen.Sc. Also in dim. form ¶springle, with depreciatory force; rarely in a more gen. sense: a song of any kind. Comb. spring-teuns, dance music (Ork. 1958 Ork. Herald (25 Feb.) 3).Sc. 1716 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 146:
Some of the persons in the tolbooth, understanding the first spring, sung the words of it out of the window, which mortified the Jacobites there.
Lnk. 1727 P. Walker Remark. Passages 60:
To fyke and fling at Piper's and Fiddler's Springs.
Sc. 1773 Boswell Tour (1936) 287:
We had a spring from the piper at breakfast, at dinner and at supper.
Ayr. 1787 Burns McPherson's Farewell i.:
He play'd a spring, and danc'd it round Below the gallows-tree.
Rnf. 1788 E. Picken Poems 17:
Frae the sprigs, the sylvan quire War liltan up their early spring.
Sc. 1824 Scott Redgauntlet ix.:
I ken naething will raise his spirits like a spring.
m.Lth. 1870 J. Lauder Warblings 44:
Then start ye to sing, lad. Some merry gaun spring, lad.
Sc. 1898 Stevenson Catriona i.:
Some springs upon the pipes.
Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 133:
Doun wi' the fiddle an' play me a spring.
Kcd. 1929 Montrose Standard (4 Oct.):
Yer tunin's mair than a' yer springle.

(2) Used fig. in phrs. (i) to pay the spring, to bear the consequences, loss, penalty or the like, of some action; (ii) to play oneself a spring, -one's ain spring, tak a spring o one's ain fiddle, to take one's own way, to do what one pleases (Sh. 1971).(i) Ayr. 1787 Burns Theniel Menzies iii.:
Charlie gat the spring to pay, For kissin Theniel's bonie Mary.
(ii) Ayr. 1784 Burns Ep. J. Rankine vi.:
I've play'd myself a bonie spring, An' danc'd my fill.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxxvi.:
If the gentleman likes he may play his ain spring first.
Sc. 1887 Jam.:
“Tak a spring o' your ain fiddle,” i.e. Follow your own plan and take the consequences.

5. Misc. combs.: (1) bluid-spring, see also Blude, III. (10); (2) spring-bauk, -back, the main top-rope of a herring-net (Ayr.4 1928; Mry. 1970). See Bauk, n.3 and cf. naut. Eng. spring, a cable; (3) spring-board, the string of a stair, the sloping board that supports the ends of the steps in a stair (Sc. 1952 Builder (20 June) 943); (4) spring-jock, -jack, (i) a jack-in-the-box; (ii) one of the click-beetles or Elateridae, which leap when touched (see quot.); (5) spring-juices, a herbal decoction prepared as a blood-purifier and aperient to be taken in spring (see quots.); (6) spring-snib, a sash-fastener (Sc. 1952 Builder (20 June) 943).(2) wm.Sc. 1883 R. Hogarth Herring Fishery 9:
The nets in these large boats are nearly all hauled by spring-backs, which are hove in by capstans or winches.
(4) (i) Slk. 1874 Border Treasury (19 Dec.) 256:
The spring-jock i' the boxie coupit them baith.
(ii) Bwk. 1848 Proc. Bwk. Nat. Club (1849) 327:
In descending from heights, they often fall on their backs, from which position they escape by a mechanism similar to a spring, which, being quickly exercised, causes them to rise with a jerk, accompanied with a snapping noise, whence they have been named “clicks,” or “spring-jacks.”
(5) Sc. 1824 J. C. Loudon Encycl. Gardening 662:
The juice [of water-cress] is decocted with that of scurvy-grass and Seville oranges, and forms the popular remedy called spring juices.
Lnk. 1831 W. Patrick Plants 45:
Brooklime . . . Leaves generally gathered for medicinal purposes, and together with scurvy-grass, an ingredient in that nauseous composition called Spring juices.

[O.Sc. spring, a tune, a.1480. ]

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"Spring v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 6 Oct 2022 <>



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