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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STANG, n.2, v.2 Also stong (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). [stɑŋ]

I. n. 1. (1) A pole, wooden bar or rod in gen. (Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl., 1904 E.D.D.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; ne.Sc., Per., Dmf. 1971), in 1709 appar. a maypole.Fif. 1709 D. Beveridge Culross (1885) II. 52:
To Alex. Birnay, wright, for erecting the stang for the scollers in August last.
Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 52:
Wi' a sturdy pointed stang We bored his ae e'e oot.

(2) A rough pole or tree-trunk on which an offender against the laws or conventions of a community, as by wife-beating, nagging, adultery, etc., was mounted astride and carried about as an object of public opprobrium; the punishment itself. See Maitland Club Misc. I. 487, J. Callander Ancient Sc. Poems (1782) 153–5. Hist.Abd. 1734 L. Shaw Hist. Moray (Gordon 1872) II. 405:
Mr. John Fraser . . . “under cloud of Night did most inhumanly and barbarously beat and bruise” his wife, that the good women of Huntly petitioned the baron bailie to grant “a toleration to the Stang.”
Ags. 1824 Montrose Char. (1880) 31:
Now a temporary, strong Jack Ketch Forced the reluctant George upon the “Stang.”
s.Sc. c.1830 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club (1916) 80:
As they had little sympathy for the culprits they were easily pleased with a stang, which was as often a knotty thorn or a rough piece of fir, as a bar of a smoother kind.

Phrs.: (i) to ridegallop) the stang, to suffer the above punishment. Also in n.Eng. dial. In 1864 quot. used erron. = to ride in triumph. Hence ride-the-stang, riding (of) the stang, the punishment itself; (ii) to ride (someone) on the stang, to subject someone to this treatment; (iii) to ride the stang on or ¶for (someone), to cause the person concerned to ride in effigy or by someone else impersonating him or her; more gen., to hold up to public ridicule.(i) Abd. 1734 Maitland Club Misc. I. 491:
Alleadging they would cause him Ride the Stang (use and wont in such cases).
Sc. 1739 Caled. Mercury (21 June):
Putting a long Pole betwixt his Legs, making him ride the Stang about the Streets, on account of his having disciplined his wife too severely.
Bnff. 1741 W. Cramond Ann. Cullen (1888) 95:
The disorders that frequently happen by the tumultuous convocations of the town's people by riding of the stang.
Lth. 1809 Letters J. Ramsay (S.H.S.) 245:
At Dalkeith the mob exercised authority in its own style, making loose women ride the Stang.
Slk. 1810 Hogg Tales (1874) 159:
A large mob dragged both the parties from the same den; and, after making them ride the stang through all the principal streets of the town, threw them into the loch.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 409:
Riding the Stang — A public punishment, inflicted on adulterers and fornicators. A large pole is got, and passed between the culprit's legs; he is then carried and cudgelled through clauchans.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 69:
Ye gallop the stang, Till your hurdies are nicket.
Fif. 1864 W. D. Latto T. Bodkin xxii.:
Scotsmen are to be fund even ridin' the stang over the North Pole itsel'.
Abd. 1904 W. Farquhar Fyvie Lintie 147:
O, has she gotten ride-the-stang?
Abd. 1909 J. Tennant Jeannie Jaffray 79:
A timber mare, whereon runagate knaves and run-away soldiers should ride the “stang.”
(ii) Kcb. 1895 Crockett Cleg Kelly xli.:
Gin the wives nooadays had ony spunk in them ava', ye wad be mobbed and ridden on the stang, my man!
(iii) Sc. 1721 Ramsay Poems (S.T.S.) I. 80:
They frae a Barn a Kaber raught, Ane mounted wi' a Bang, Betwisht twa's Shouders, and sat straught Upon't, and rade the Stang On her that Day.
m.Lth. 1736 Caled. Mercury (29 March):
George Porteous, smith at Edmistoun, having severely beat and abused his wife, thought himself so highly affronted by the neighbours riding the stang for him, that, taking remorse, he went and hanged himself the day after.
Slg. 1788 R. Galloway Poems 21:
So dinna think sae aften wrang, Or else on you I'll ride the stang.
Bwk. 1856 G. Henderson Pop. Rhymes 54:
De'il ride the stang on the ill-deeded crew!
Ayr. 1841 J. Paton Songs 30:
Ye Poets ride on him the stang.

(3) A punt-pole.Abd. 1900 C. Murray Hamewith 73:
This is the ferry, an' I am the lord An' king o' the boat an' stang.
Mry. 1953 Northern Scot (25 April):
The Loch of Spynie is very shallow and stangs in preference to oars are used in the boats.

(4) In sea-taboo language: the mast of a boat (Sh. 1814 Irvine MSS., 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.).Sh. 1899 Shetland News (1 April):
Da twa fowereen staangs'at Geordie Moad wis taen frae da banks fir haandspiks.

(5) The stock of a bell.Abd. 1793 Sc. N. & Q. (Nov. 1933) 174:
To a new stang for the bell. . . . 2s 6d.

(6) The steering-column of a motor car.Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 61:
Nor wid I lat the stang atween the knees that gripped a cob.

2. A shaft or draught-pole of a cart (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). See also Cairt, n.1Ags. 1856 Arbroath Guide (23 Feb.) 3:
His tremblin' frame maun bide the stang.
Sc. 1871 P. H. Waddell Psalms 24:
Schuten atowre frae God wi' stang or bridle, like senseless, menseless brute beiss.

3. In a plough: the vertical part of the beam of the old Orkney plough to which the share was attached; the shaft on which the coulter is fixed (Fif. 1971).Ork. 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 8:
The next part of the plough is the nobe; this acts as a binder on the joint between the foregill and the stang or beam.

4. A spike, prong or the like, of metal; the tine of a hay- or digging-fork (Abd. 1950); the spindle of a door-knob. Deriv. stangril, a pronged instrument for pushing small bunches of straw into the sods of a roof in thatching (Ags. 1825 Jam.). Cf. Sting.Abd. 1726 Burgh Rec. Abd. (B.R.S.) 370:
The stang of the tolbooth weather cock was loose.
Abd. 1748 A. Watt Hist. Kintore (1865) 57:
For painting and gilding weathercock, Stang and balls.
Abd. 1958 People's Jnl. (3 May):
Ah crackit a spunk tae get hauds o' the nob, ma heid cam' in contack wi' the stang o't an' oot it gaed.

5. The tongue or metal reed in a jew's harp, used most commonly fig. in phr. the stang o the trump, the essential, indispensable, or most effective person in a group or activity, the “live-wire,” the “life and soul” of a party, the best of the bunch (n.Sc. 1808 Jam.; ne.Sc., Ags. 1971).wm.Sc. 1843 Whistle-Binkie 46:
Baith bodies toil'd sair to mak' gowd in a lump, But Maggie was counted the stang o' the trump.
Sc. 1854 D. Vedder Poems 59:
The Ganger's the stang o' the trump in the clachan.
Sc. 1881 A. Henderson Proverbs 150:
You hae lost the stang o' your trump.
Bnff. 1887 W. M. Philip Covedale 36:
A man that preaches a Sermon without that doctrine runnin throu't, has gotten a trump in his mou without the stang.
Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 107:
The ‘stang o' the trump,' I'd freely sweir on aith!
Kcd. 1909 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. II. 314:
The Trump was made with one and two stangs, or tongues.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains & Hilly 130:
The weemen's the stang o' the trump in kirk maitters nooadays.
Abd. 1956 Abd. Press and Jnl. (17 July):
The agricultural worker, who is the stang o' the trump in every country.
Mry. 1960 E. Gilbert Ae Forenicht 33:
We'd an antrin swatch o' singing An' a trump wi' double stang.

6. A key, as the stang or sine qua non of the lock, phs. with some allusion to 5.Per. 1746 T. L. K. Oliphant Lairds of Gask (1870) 194:
I am extremely glad that you have recovered the Key of your Padlock, and I make no doubt but you'll preserve it, as it is the Stang of the Lock.

II. v. To cause to ride the stang (see I. 1.(2)), to carry a person astride on a pole by way of public ignominy (n.Sc. 1825 Jam.). Also in Eng. dial.Ayr. 1785 Burns A. Armour's Prayer ii., vii.:
Because we “stang'd” her through the place . . . Wi'stanget hips, and buttocks bluidy.

[O.Sc. stang, a pole, 1508, a spike, 1629, = II., 1669, Mid.Eng. stong, stang, a pole or stake, O.N. stǫng, stang-, id.]

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"Stang n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 7 Jun 2023 <>



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