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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

STING, n.2, v.2 Also steing (Abd. 1708 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VII. 88); staing, steng (Sh.).

I. n. 1. A pole, a long bar of wood, specif. one carried on the shoulders of two men, from which a load can be suspended by ropes or the like.Abd. 1701 J. Bulloch Pynours (1887) 73–4:
Crews for caryeing sting burdens. . . . Each Sting lift carried by two men is to pay the double of ane back burden.
Edb. 1703 Act for quenching of Fires (21 April):
Twenty-four Says and thirty six Stings with Knogs.
Gsw. 1726 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1909) 252:
The toun providing each suggar house with four stings and stands and buckets.
Rs. 1727 W. MacGill Old Ross-shire (1909) 133:
Fatt stings: 100 widdies.
Abd. 1735 Abd. Estate (S.C.) 53:
To the Blacksmith for Barrel Sting . . . 4s. 4d.
Sc. 1760 City Cleaned and Country Improven 9:
Two men-scavengers with the sting and say can carry more water conveniently than ten single persons can do with an open jirbling tub between their hands.
Abd. 1895 Sc. N. & Q. (1st Ser.) VIII. 125:
The quaint operation of carrying a barrel on a “sting” by two men.

Phr. sting and ling, lit., by means of a pole resting on the shoulders of two bearers, in carrying heavy or bulky articles, e.g. barrels, water-tubs, or the like (Sc. 1808 Jam.); fig., bodily, lock, stock and barrel. without ceremony, forcibly (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Sc. 1825 Jam.). Obs. or arch. See Ling, n.1Sc. 1816 Scott O. Mortality xiv.:
I was at my mither to get her awa sting and ling or the redcoats cam up.
Ags. 1833 J. S. Sands Poet. Effusions 97:
Jean . . . wi' a flutter Brought the auld ladder sting and ling.
Hdg. 1883 J. Martine Reminisc. 143:
Two brewer's men carrying a barrel of ale, ‘Sting and Ling'.

2. A goad or stick for animals.Bnff. 1724 Annals Bnff. (S.C.) II. 219:
For a sting to drive the oxen . . . 1s.

3. A pole used to push a boat off a beach in launching it (Sc. 1825 Jam.) or in punting, a punt-pole. Hence boat-sting; stingsman, the man who keeps a salmon coble from grounding during fishing (Mry. 1925).Ags. 1795 Session Papers, Arbuthnott v. Scott (11 March) 174:
The boat-sting is the instrument with which they drove their stone boat, and the length of it was twelve feet and upwards.
Mry. 1830 T. D. Lauder in Andrew Cruickshank Andrew Cruickshank's Scottish Bedside Book (1977) 102:
The iron shod pole he held in his hand, called in floater's language a sting.

4. A mast in a boat (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 213, steng, staing, 1866 Edm. Gl., 1908 Jak. (1928)). Also in dim. form stengy (Edm.). See also Stang.

5. A stick with a forked iron tip used by thatchers to push straw into the roof (Sc. 1808 Jam.). Also in n.Eng. dial.Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 46:
The thatch, in small handfuls, twisted together at top, is thrust into holes previously made obliquely upwards in the divots by an iron-shod, dovetailed-pointed instrument (called a sting).

II. v. 1. To propel (a boat) in shallow water by means of a pole, to punt (Per., s.Sc. 1825 Jam.).Mry. 1852 A. Christie Mountain Strains 13:
They row'd an' sting'd thegither.

2. To use a sting in thatching; to push straw, etc., into a roof for thatch; to thatch with a sting (Sc. 1825 Jam.; ‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). Hence stinger, a thatcher (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a thatching fork, a sting (‡Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); stinging board, a thatcher's sting. Board is here prob. an anglicised form of brod, for Prod, n.1, 1.; stingin-spurtle, id. (Cld. 1825 Jam.). See Spurtle.Sc. 1707 Household Bk. Lady G. Baillie (S.H.S.) lxiv.:
For 85 threve oat stra crop 1707 at 6s. to sting the house.
e.Lth. 1713 Country-Man's Rudiments 30:
Mind them yearly by stinging them with Straw alwise when they begin to fail.
Fif. 1793 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 617:
Striking Thomas Greig repeated blows on the head with a stinging board.
Peb. 1802 C. Findlater Agric. Peb. 46:
Heath is neither sewed nor stinged; excepting the first course along the heads of the walls, which is sewed to the spars.
em.Sc. 1909 J. Black Melodies 171:
As the weather was favourable, the sensible old stinger kept steadily at work.

[O.Sc. steng, a pole, a.1400, steing, a cudgel, 1475, sting and ling, 1557, O.E. steng, a stick. The O.N. cogn. is stǫng, Stang, n.2, v.2, with sim. meanings.]

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"Sting n.2, v.2". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 5 Dec 2022 <>



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