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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STAB, n.1, adj., v.1 Also staab, stabb. [stɑb]

I. n. 1. A wooden stake, or post, an upright in a fence or palisade (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1923–6 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai). Gen.Sc.; a stave in a wooden vessel. Also in combs. stab-gaud, a fishing-line attached to a small stake in the bank of a stream (Lnk. 1825 Jam.); stab-munted, of a gap in a hedge: repaired with stakes (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Munt, v.; paling-stab, fence-post (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.). See Munt, v.; paling-stab, fence-post (Sc. 1927 J. Millar Scotland Yet 104).Gsw. 1723 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 176:
Twenty six pund for daills and kaibers for weigh house broad and trone feet and stabs to cassiers.
Rnf. 1760 W. M. Metcalfe Lordship Paisley (1912) 48:
For making Stabbs to Inclose part of the Garden.
Rnf. 1805 G. McIndoe Poems 10:
The seat, a stab, the heel-pins rotten.
Ayr. 1821 Galt Annals vi:
The plantations supplied him with stabs to make stake and rice between his fields.
Slg. 1837 Justiciary Reports (1838) 489:
I took a pailing stab, and drove in his skull.
Fif. 1841 Trans. Highl. Soc. 303:
The roof is in the first instance artificially kept up by fir stabs.
Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 16:
A verra auncient an curious Punch-Bowl made o' oak stabs, wi bress girds on't.
e.Lth. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 267:
The stakes — Ca'd ‘stabs,' langsyne — for haudin' up the nets.
Sc. 1953 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 455:
I couldn't see how that hole had been made, unless he'd fallen on a paling stab.
Bwk. 1997:
A stab is a pointed fence-post which is driven into the ground rather than one which is sited in a pit.

Phrs. (1) stab and ramble, a fencing made of posts and brushwood interlaced, see Rammel, n.1; (2) stab and rice, id., see Rice, n., 3.; (3) stab and stow, completely, absolutely, entirely. Cf. Stick.(1) Dmb. 1753 Session Papers, Buchanan v. Towart (5 Dec.) 1:
The Master should from Time to Time furnish great Timber for the Houses, and Stabb and Ramble for upholding the Dykes.
(3) Sc. 1722 W. Hamilton Wallace x. iii.:
Who set their lodgings all in a fair low About their ears and burnt them stab and stow.
Sc. 1832 Chambers's Jnl. (Dec.) 345:
They'll be roupit out, stab and stow.
Ags. 1853 W. Blair Aberbrothock 60:
The forty-five, that unco time, fan nane cud ca' neither hilt nor hair, stab nor stow, nor yet ane's lugs their nain.

2. The stem or stump of a plant. Also in Eng. dial.Slk. 1829 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 640:
They're gaun wi' the young clover bodily an' they'll no leave a stab o't.

3. A stout thick-set man (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Sh., Uls. 1971); also of a half-grown cod (Jak.).Gsw. 1863 J. Young Ingle Nook 89:
'Twas just our Rab, The clatty, daidlin', drucken stab.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 30:
He's a stabb o' a sheeld, an' raelly wirks awa' laek a man.

II. adj., from an attrib. use of I.: short, stocky in physique (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Comb. stab-callant, = I. 3. (Rxb. 1825 Jam.). Deriv. stabby, stout, stocky; fig. substantial, solid. Jak. gives the form stabbin s.v. stabblin.Ayr. 1805 A. Aitken Poems (1873) 61:
May ye ne'er want guid stabby brose.
Ayr. 1885 J. Meikle Yachting Yarns 84:
A stabby usefu' kin' o' callan'.

III. v. To fix stakes in the ground, to enclose with stakes or posts (Cld. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1971).Bte. 1758 Rothesay T.C. Records (1933) II. 823:
The visiteing marking out and stabbing of the ground of the new house to be built.
Abd. 1886 A. Murcar MS. Diary (10 Nov.):
Stowing and stabbing Ricks all day.

[O.Sc. stab, a stake, 1680, a variant of Stob, with a for o, see P.L.D. § 54. Connection with Stab, n.3 is doubtful.]

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"Stab n.1, adj., v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 10 Dec 2022 <>



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