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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1974 (SND Vol. IX). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

TAP, n.1, v.1, adj. Dim. tappie. Sc. form and usages of Eng. top, the summit, highest part, etc. See P.L.D. § 54. Hence tapmast (Abd. 1853 W. Cadenhead Flights 144), -maist (Per. 1896 I. MacLaren Kate Carnegie 192), -most (Abd. 1917 E. S. Rae Private J. Macpherson 48), topmost, highest. [tɑp]

Sc. forms:wm.Sc. 1985 Liz Lochhead Tartuffe 7:
Oh, it's aye the Place of Honour, the tap o' the table for
The man who eats mair than ony other six were able for.
Gsw. 1990 John and Willy Maley From the Calton to Catalonia 47:
Its hard tae believe ah'll no see ma Jamie come roon that coarner at the tap a the street again, whistlin, his hauns in his poackits an his bunnet shoved back oan his heid.
ne.Sc. 1991 Lilianne Grant Rich in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 24:
Noo maisterfu, the floodtide saut-flung sea
Haps ilka glintin rock oot ower its heid
Like wreaths o white flooers on the coffin tap
O them that's deid.
m.Sc. 1997 Liz Niven Past Presents 18:
A wheen o fowk fae aw the pairts
O "Cool Caledonia" as they cried it.
Walked fae aw ower the place
Tae build a wee cairn up the hill - richt up the tap.
m.Sc. 1998 Lillias Forbes Turning a Fresh Eye 18:
Dinna bide in yon chaumer
Wi the wee, clorty winnock
At the tap o the hoose
Up the kypie stair

Sc. usages:

I. n. 1. A tuft, of hair, wool, feathers, etc., a forelock (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), a fowl's crest (Sc. 1808 Jam.); a tuft or bushy growth of a plant; a tuft to decorate the top of a haystack; a crested or feathered headgear. Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.; transf. a cloud formation covering a mountain top. Dim. forms tappie, tappack, -ock, a pet-name for a hen with a tufted crest (I.Sc. 1972). Combs. tappy-taened, dragged by the forelock, enslaved, coerced, conscripted. See Tak, v., A.; tappie-teenie, the name of (a player in) a childish amusement (see tappy-taened above), also called tappi(e)-tousie (Fif. 1876 A. Laing Lindores 379). See 1825 quot. and Tousie; tappy-towers, see Tappietourie. For tappie, v., see II. 4.Sc. 1742 J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 85:
Has the young Cock a very large top?
Sc. 1756 M. Calderwood Journey (M.C.) 136:
The horses have a large top betwixt their ears.
Sc. 1819 J. Rennie St Patrick III. xi.:
Odd, gin I dinna pu' doun his tap, an' tak' his fleegaries o' feathers fur a bit trophy.
Sc. 1824 Scott St Ronan's Well ii.:
A head like a heather tap.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
In this sport, one taking hold of another by the forelock of his hair, says to him — “Tappie Tappie tousie, will ye be my man?” If the other answers in the affirmative, the first says — “Come to me then”; giving him a smart pull towards him by the lock which he holds in his hand. If the one, who is asked, answers in the negative, the other gives him a push backward, saying — “Gae frae me then.” It represents the mode in which one received another as his bondsman.
Nai. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XIII. 36:
Snow tops, or tufts of wool on the forehead.
Ags. 1860 A. Whamond James Tacket 78:
My hair was kept close cut all round by my Auntie Tibbie except a small tuft in front which she called a beau tap.
Ags. 1864 Arbroath Guide (23 Jan.) 2:
Mr Macfarlane wis tappy-taened into the ministry.
Ayr. 1873 A. Aitken Poems 28:
Sadly we grieved at the fate o' auld tappock.
Fif. 1905 S. Tytler Daughter of Manse i. iv.:
The setting of eggs to put below your brown ‘tappie'.
Ags. 1911 Rymour Club Misc. I. 209:
The speaker pulling a lock of the other's hair, and saying: — Tappie, teenie, will ye be my mannie (or wifie)?
Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 224:
When Craig Rossie gets a tap The Lowlanders are sure of sap.
Mry. 1931 J. Geddie Characters 77:
This worthy's “deuks” and “tappack” (his favourite hen) were in the habit of “laying off”.
Abd. 1936 Huntly Express (2 Oct.) 7:
She gied his lang tap a bit rug.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 79:
This particular evening he was making tappies for the top of the stacks.

Freq. in ppl.adj. tappit, -et, -ed, -id, dim. tappitie, -y (Sc. 1880 Jam.), crested, tufted, used esp. of fowls. Combs. (1) tappit-duck, the tufted duck, Nyroca fuligula (Lnk. 1897 Annals Sc. Nat. Hist. 214); (2) tappit-heid, a shaggy head of hair; ‡(3) tappit hen, (i) a hen with a tuft of feathers on its head (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Per. 1915 Wilson L. Strathearn 271; I., n. and m.Sc. 1972); (ii) a decanter, gen. for ale or wine, containing orig. a Scots pint or, later, another of the standard measures of liquor (see 1911 quot.), usu. made of pewter, pot-bellied, with a narrowing neck and wider head, and having a lid with a knob resembling a fowl's tuft (Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl., 1808 Jam.). Gen.Sc., hist.; (iii) a large glass bottle for holding claret to the capacity of three magnums or Scots pints (Abd. 1825 Jam.); (iv) see quot.; (v) a dumpling with currants, gen. boiled in soup (Lth. 1971); (4) tappitie-wheet, the lapwing, Vanellus vulgaris (Wgt. 1897 66th Report Brit. Ass. 472). See Wheet, n.1Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Poems 87:
Mony a fowl, tho' brawly tappit.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 141:
To secure birds with crests, tappit birds, she had to put on a man's hat.
Abd. 1927 E. S. Rae Hansel Fae Hame 20:
The tappit peesies swoop again.
(2) Uls. a.1900 in Traynor Gl.:
Every one of them [gipsies] was swarthy and sma' with tappit heads.
(3) (i) Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 64:
Tapped hens likes cock crawing.
Sc. 1742 J. Cockburn Letters (S.H.S.) 84:
The very finest large top'd and pure white leg'd hens.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 46:
Thalia, a muse o' meikle note, Sat like a tapit hen.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Steam-Boat xvi.:
Like the tuft of a tappit hen.
Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 15:
The tappit hen, fat bonny eggs she laid.
(ii) Sc. 1715 Major Fraser's MS. (Fergusson 1889) II. 160:
Our Comrads had not appeared since the Tapped hens of the last night.
Sc. 1740 Ramsay T.-T. Misc. (1876) IV. 423:
And well she loo'd a Hawick gill, And leugh to see a tappit hen.
Ayr. 1791 Burns Welcome W. Stewart ii.:
The tappet hen, gae bring her ben, To welcome Willie Stewart!
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. xxxix. Note H.:
The Tappit Hen contained three quarts of claret. . . . I have seen one of these formidable stoups at Provost Haswell's, at Jedburgh, in the days of yore. It was a pewter measure, the claret being in ancient days served from the tap, and had the figure of a hen upon the lid. In later times the name was given to a glass bottle of the same dimensions.
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Traditions II. 253:
A large two-quart bottle, or tappit-hen, is introduced by the landlady, with a small measure, out of which the company help themselves.
Rxb. 1868 Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. 29:
A bet on the subject was made between the two parties to the extent of a tappit hen.
Kcb. 1885 A. J. Armstrong Friend and Foe ii.:
Ye maun a' hae a wee drappie frae my tappit hen.
Fif. 1894 J. W. M'Laren Tibbie and Tam 125:
Every twa-three meenits the tappit hen gaed roun'.
Sc. 1911 Palace of History Catal. I. 84:
The common or cant name for the Scots pint when made in a particular shape was a “Tappit-hen”, and the other Scots Standard Measures, viz. chopin, mutchkin, ½ mutchkin, and gill, were made in the same shape from early times. After the adoption of the Imperial Standard Measures, the following Imperial Measures were also made in this shape, viz., ½ gallon, 14 gills, quart, pint, ½ pint, gill, ½ gill, and possibly the ¼ gill.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xvii.:
A servant-man in breeches clapped before them tappit-hens.
Sc. 1950 Ideal Home (March) 66:
To test whether a Tappit Hen is genuine, put the fingers a little way inside the neck, and there should be a small pimple in the metal called the “plouk” or “plouck”, which was the full measure mark.
Per. 1964 Perthshire Advert. (27 June) 5:
Pewter Tappit Hen.
(iv) Sc. a.1814 J. Ramsay Scot. and Scotsmen (1888) II. 81:
Whenever it [claret] became tart and thin, it was customary to mix it with cinnamon and sugar, which made what was then called a tapped hen.

2. The tuft or quantity of flax or tow put on a distaff at one time for spinning. Combs. and phr.: lint tap, tap o' lint, id. (Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems Gl.; Sc. 1808 Jam.); tap o' tow, id. (Sc. 1808 Jam.), also fig. a head of very fair hair, flaxen hair (Knr., w.Lth., wm.Sc. 1972), by metonymy, a flaxen-haired child and, from the notion of its being easily set alight, a fiery-tempered, irritable person (Uls. 1931 Northern Whig (11 Dec.) 13); to take or up with one's tap in one's lap, to pack up and be gone, to set off in a hurry (Lth., Rxb. 1825 Jam., “borrowed from the practice of women accustomed to spin from a rock [distaff], who often carried their work with them to the house of some neighbour. An individual when about to depart, was wont to wrap up in her apron, the flax or lint-tap at which she was spinning, together with her distaff”, Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1711 J. Watson Choice Coll. iii. 47:
A Trough, a Trencher, and a Tap.
Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T.S.) 16:
His hair baith white and lang Like tap of lint down o'er his shoulders hang.
Ayr. 1792 Burns Weary Pund o' Tow iii.:
Quoth I: — “For shame, ye dirty dame, Gae spin your tap o' tow!”
Ayr. 1803 A. Boswell Poet. Wks. (1871) 119:
When the fatal sister spins, Johnie, I steal the life-lint frae her tap.
Sc. 1818 Scott H. Midlothian xxxviii.:
If I were to take my tap in my lap, and slip my ways hame again.
Lnk. 1824 Sc. Peasants xxii.:
He'll tak' a stick to her, for he is a tap o' tow as well as her.
Edb. 1844 J. Ballantine Gaberlunzie i.:
His noddle gets up like a tap o' tow, but his bark's waur than his bite.
Gsw. 1844 Songs for the Nursery 6:
A rousin' fire will . . . keep fu' cosh My tousie taps-o'-tow.
Ags. 1873 D. M. Ogilvy Poems 126:
There's a brosy bairn wi' a tap o' tow, And the cock at the dawn is crowing.
Ags. 1891 Barrie Little Minister ix.:
They had to up wi' their tap in their lap.

3. The head (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh., Abd., Ags., Per. 1972). Dim. tappie, of a child's head.Kcb. 1825 W. Nicholson Poet. Wks. (1897) 83:
Ribbons roun' his tap he gathers.
Abd. 1853 W. Cadenhead Flights 252:
Warm him frae the tae to tappie.
Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 22:
To cleed their backs or busk their tap.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 26:
I'm gray aboot da tap.

4. (1) The tip, end (Sh., Cai., Ags., Per. 1972). Cf. 10. (13); a slit made in the tip of the ear of a sheep, as a mark of ownership (Ork. 1922 J. Firth Reminisc. 112). Cf. v., 1.Ayr. 1846 Ballads (Paterson) I. 99:
The Deil about his tail did fling, Upon its tap there was a sting.
Gall. 1881 J. K. Scott Gleanings 65:
The tap o' her nose an' her chin amaist met.

(2) A fir cone (Fif. 1898 Proc. Philos. Soc. Gsw. XXX. 49; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Mry., Slg., Rxb. 1972). More commonly in comb. fir-tap, see Fir, n., 2.

5. The surface of water. Gen.Sc.; the thicker part of milk which rises to the top, the cream. Gen.Sc., phs. rather a usage of Eng. top, the best part of anything.Sc. 1745 Scots Mag. (June) 275:
The wee short loch out owre, when not a blast Has on its tap an angry curl cast.
Kcb. 1814 W. Nicholson Tales 74:
The milk was supped, taps an' a'.
Crm. 1834 H. Miller Scenes and Leg. 279:
The yawl lies on the tap o' the fu' sea.
Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 18:
Weel made brose — ah, rich an' fine, Wi' the tap o' Hilly's milk.

6. Gen. in pl.: a wooden frame-work fitted round a cart in order to extend its capacity, esp. for taking loads of hay or grain, a hay-frame (Sc. 1858 H. Stephens Farm Implements 421; Per., Fif. 1972). See also Hey, n.1, 1. (15).Sc. 1844 H. Stephens Bk. of Farm III. 1087:
The common cart mounted with a framing called tops.
Ags. 1879 Brechin Advert. (15 April) 4:
I hae a guid box cart wi' tops.

7. In pl.: the uppermost division of a seam of coal or mineral (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 67). Cf. tap-ply s.v. 9. (7).Lnk. 1920 Memoirs Geol. Survey Scot. (1920) 87:
The section of the workings was as follows: Blaes, Shale, Tops (i.e. top coal), Till, Bottoms (i.e. bottom coal), Rock.

8. Usu. in pl.: the best sheep or lambs in a flock. Gen. (exc. I.) Sc., gen, in forms tops.Sth. 1831 Lib. Usef. Knowl., Brit. Husbandry III. 80:
The tops (the most choice and best breed) possess the outskirts of the ewe herding.
Ayr. 1866 Trans. Highl. Soc. 38:
Two-thirds or more (the “tops”) are generally sold fat in June and July.
Arg. 1970 Scotsman (16 Sept.) 19:
5000 Blackface Wedder and Ewe Lambs, mostly ‘Tops'.

9. Phrs.: (1) at the tap o' one's fit, at full speed; (2) frae the tap o' the world tae the fit, the whole length of Scotland (see quot.); (3) licht in the tap, light-headed with drink, tipsy; (4) (neither) tap, tail (n)or mane, -root, head and (nor) tail, a (no) coherent intelligible account or sense (of something), beginning, middle and end (ne.Sc., Kcb. 1972). See also Main, n.1, 1.; (5) never aff one's tap, always chiding or criticising one, continually assailing or quarrelling with one (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Cai. 1905 E.D.D.). Gen.Sc., obs. in Eng. but now appar. reviving in currency; (6) on one's tap, attacking or assailing one, lit. “by flying at one's head, or attempting to get hold of the hair” (Sc. 1825 Jam.), and fig. reproving in a severely censorious or aggressive manner, “narking” (Id.). Gen.Sc. The metaphor is prob. taken from cock-fighting; (7) tap-ow(e)r-tail, taper-tail, head over heels, topsy-turvy. Also in Eng. dial.; (8) (the) tap o' the day, the part of the day near noon, the later morning (I.Sc., Cai. 1972); (9) the tap o' the road, the middle of the road, esp. in phrs. referring to going about, setting on one's way (Sh., n.Sc. 1972); (10) the tap o' the water, high water, full tide (Sh., n. and e.Sc. 1972).(1) Sc. 1826 M. & M. Corbett Odd Volume 164:
Aff he gaed at nearly the tap o' his fit.
(2) Sc. 1958 Scotsman (7 Oct.) 6:
When a member of a tinker family dies the relations for many miles around — “from the tap o' the world tae the fit”, as one tinker told me, explaining when asked, that he meant from Galloway to Caithness — attend the ceremony.
(3) Lnk. 1838 A. Rodger Poems 46:
Daundering hame rather light i' the tap.
(4) Sc. 1727 P. Walker Life of Peden 62:
His sermon had neither top, tail, nor mane.
Sc. 1757 Letters Mrs Calderwood (Fergusson 1884) 360:
Neither the writing nor the matter could he make top, taill or mane of.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
I dinna ken tap, tail nor mane o't.
Fif. 1895 S. Tytler Macdonald Lass xiii.:
I cannot make tap, tail or main of the circumstances.
Kcb. 1897 A. J. Armstrong Robbie Rankine at Exhibition 33:
Hang me if I can mak' tap, tail, or root o' a' their falderals.
(5) Slk. 1810 Hogg Wool-Gatherer (1874) 79:
I hae done naething ava that's wrang, Sir; but she's never aff my tap.
Sc. 1823 M. & M. Corbett Petticoat Tails I. 265:
I maunna say no, or I would get baith Peggy and you on my tap.
(6) Ayr. 1710 in J. Calderwood Dying Testimonies (1806) 155:
Who would have thought that those builders would have so soon flown upon one anothers tops?
Lnk. 1746 D. Graham Writings (1883) I. 87:
This set the clergy on his tap.
m.Sc. 1886 Sc. Leader (3 May) 5:
Baillie Lawson is always on my top about paltry things of that sort.
(7) s.Sc. 1793 T. Scott Poems 365:
The warl wad a' gang taper-tail thegither.
Fif. 1819 W. Tennant Papistry 200:
Ilk tirlie-wirlie mawment bra, Cam tumblin' tap-owr-tail.
(8) Cai. 1869 M. Maclennan Peasant Life 274:
I seed a hawker, tap o' the day, wha cam throo Elgin toun.
(9) Abd. 1920:
That wife's aye on the tap o' the road, always gadding about; he bungt and took the tap o' the road and we never saw him again.
(10) n.Sc. 1932 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 25:
She'll no' tak' muckle hairm till the top o' the water, then maybe the sea will turn her broadside on.

10. In combs. and derivs.: (1) tap-coat, -kwite, a thick overcoat, a great-coat (I., ne.Sc., Kcb. 1972); (2) tap-dressed, floored, trounced; severely rebuked (Per. 1972); †(3) tap-faw, soil that has fallen in or sunk from the surface of the ground, subsided soil (Fif. 1825 Jam.); (4) (in) tap-flude, adv., in full flood, at its highest point, of an inundation (Sh. 1972); (5) tap-pickle, -puckle, -pukkel, the highest ear of corn on a stalk of oats (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sh. 1972); transf. a woman's virginity (see note to 1786 quot.); ¶(6) tap-piece, jocularly, a hat; (7) top-ply, the upper division of a seam or stratum of coal (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 67); (8) tap-raip, the cork- or float-rope in a herring-net (Abd., Kcd. 1972 Patterns in Folk-Speech (Wakelin) 20); (9) top-range, the highest course or coping on a wall; (10) tapsman, the chief man in charge of a drove of cattle, the head-drover (Dmf. 1825 Jam.); (11) tap-square, -swa(a)r, top-heavy, esp. of a boat (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh. 1972); fig. on one's dignity, touchy, apt to take offence (I.Sc. 1972). See Swaar, adj. , and S, letter, 3.; (12) tapster, the chief man in any affair (Sh. 1972), the top dog; (13) tap-swarm, the first swarm of bees from a hive (Sc. 1825 Jam.); also fig. of seceders from any organised body: (14) tap-taes, tip-toes (Sh., em.Sc., Lnk. 1972). Cf. 4.; (15) top-tails, †head over heels, ‡lying head and tail, alternately (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (16) tap-thrawn, headstrong, perverse, obstinate (Sc. 1808 Jam., “having the tap or head distorted; or in allusion to the hair of the head lying in an awkward and unnatural manner”); (17) tap-wark, the arrangement of pullies, harness cords, etc., in the upper part of a draw-loom.(1) Dmf. 1821 Blackwood's Mag. (Jan.) 406:
He had twa tap coats and a plaid on.
Ayr. 1880 J. Tannock Poems 16:
Here's a topcoat, the best we've got.
Mry. 1887 A. G. Wilken Peter Laing 29:
Tapkwites, mittens, or umbrellas.
Edb. 1915 T. W. Paterson Auld Saws 80:
[They] claim they need a tap-coat.
(2) Lnk. 1881 D. Thomson Musings 34:
They [curlers]'ve been tap-dressed gey weel By some bit honest muirland chiel.
(4) Slk. 1723 Caled. Mercury (12 Dec.):
The Water being Top-flood, hereby the People, put into a Fright, rush'd forward to the Horn of the Boat.
s.Sc. 1900 Abd. Wkly. Free Press (8 Dec.):
The river was in tap flude.
(5) Ayr. 1786 Burns Halloween vi.:
Her tap-pickle maist was lost, When kiutlin in the fause-house Wi' him that night. Note: They go to the barnyard, and pull each, at three several times, a stalk of oats. If the third stalk wants the “top-pickle”, that is, the grain at the top of the stalk, the party in question will come to the marriage-bed anything but a maid.
Ayr. 1790 A. Tait Poems 147:
The good tap-pickle ye hae gloyt Of Moll and Meg.
Sc. a.1825 Donald and Flora in Jam.:
Green-coated fairies, fidgin' fain, Grunding their tap-pickle melder.
Lnk. 1856 “Young Glasgow” Deil's Hallowe'en 34:
And when he [Devil] cagily drew near, And frae the stack pu'd out an ear, — Hell echoed wi' a loud guffaw — The Deil's tap pick'le was awa'.
Uls. 1880 Patterson Gl.:
‘The top pickle of all grain belongs to the gentry,' i.e. to the fairies.
Sh. 1920 J. Nicholson Folk-Tales 35:
It's been ground fae da tap pukkels.
(6) Clc. 1852 G. P. Boyd Misc. Poems 6:
So hand me owre my tap-piece, Wull, An' tak the gate.
(9) Edb. 1781 Session Papers, Petition J. Johnston (19 Jan.) Proof 12:
The best clapp-dykes are usually made in the country, without any coping or top-range put upon them.
(10) Sc. 1755 Session Papers, Gray v. Robertson (29 July) 11:
John Gray had the Charge, or was Topsman of the Drove.
Sc. 1827 Scott Two Drovers i.:
The topsmen whom they employed in the tedious, laborious, and responsible office of driving the cattle.
Sc. 1844 J. G. Kohl Travels in Scot. 151:
This topsman directs all the movements of the drove, transacts all the business connected with it, and is answerable to the proprietors of the cattle for the profits.
Dmf. 1915 J. M. Corrie Droving Days 114:
The topsman or chief drover, who was generally mounted, signalled to his assistants by means of a bullocks' horn fashioned into a rough trumpet.
Abd. 1928 Word-Lore III. 148:
Johnnie wis tapsmin, an' he hed a gweed hunner helpinders an' hirelins aneth him.
(11) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 100:
Na, Robie, be no sae tapsquare.
Sh. 1962 New Shetlander No. 62. 6:
Naebody at saa her wid ever a tocht At shö bör sic a tap-swaar lodd.
(12) Sh. 1879 Shetland Times (10 May):
Bit we'se haed plenty o' laa an' little justice sin' dey cam' ta be tapsters.
Sh. 1965 New Shetlander No. 72. 4:
Some men maan aye be tapsters.
(13) Ayr. 1811 W. Aiton Agric. Ayr. 163:
Mrs Buchan's squad, the tap-swarm of the Relief.
Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 93:
His tap swarm did flee Out owre Bentouther's buesty fell.
Ags. 1868 G. Webster Strathbrachan I. xiv.:
I hope it [headdress] will catch a tap swarm.
(14) Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 78:
On their taptaes what couples did jicker and spang.
Sh. 1901 T. P. Ollason Mareel 33:
Olie sallied in ower da flüir, side first, on his taptaes.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Faebruary 18):
A body canna aye be staandin on dir tap-taes.
(16) Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 194:
A tap-thrawn monk wi' roundit cap.
Ags. 1883 J. M. Beatts Reminisc. 28:
Tap-thrawn Jamie, the butcher, With Jamie, the Cooper, sae curst.
Gsw. 1935 G. Woden Tannenbrae xi.:
A tap thrawn dour young madam like Peggy.
(17) Rnf. 1935 D. Webster Rhymes 152:
Making our mounting, tail and tapwork To operate weel.

II. v., freq. in form top. 1. To mark an animal with an ownership mark by making an incision in the tip of the ear (Sh., Kcb. 1972). Ppl.adj. topped, of a sheep: ear-marked in this manner.Bnff. 1713 R. Sim Old Keith (1865) 76:
He toped ane ox and wounded another.
Peb. 1774 J. Maclaurin Crim. Cases 558:
The ewe was tapped in the far-lug.
Kcb. 1880 J. H. Maxwell Sheep-marks 2:
Topped on near ear; topped and slit on far.

2. Golf, gen. in form top: to hit (the ball) on its upper part, making it spin rather than fly forward (Fif. 1857 H. B. Farnie Golfer's Manual 80). Gen.Sc.Sc. 1862 Rambling Remarks (Chambers) 21:
If too much force be applied, the chances are, that instead of hitting the ball fair, it is topped, and so driven a comparatively short distance.
Sc. 1893 A. Lang Poet. Wks. (1923) II. 76:
My cleek seems merely made to top.
Sc. 1931 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 410:
I canna drive: I've tappit ilka ba' .

3. To lead off (a dance).Ags. 1890 A. Lowson J. Guidfollow 61:
The ball is now opened, douce old Provost Binnie topping the first dance with Lady Auchterhouse.

4. To strike or rumple the hair as a sign of capture in a game. Cf. I. 1.Ags. 1887 J. McBain Arbroath 339:
A favourite boy's game was “Hunt the Tod”. It was a very exciting and wind-testing game, until the Tod was run to earth and duly “tapped”, which in this case was accomplished by his being forcibly held down and firmly thumped on the crown of the head.

III. adj. First-rate, excellent (Sc. 1911 S.D.D., topp). Also in slang or colloq. Eng., of the best quality or grade, specif. of sheep drafted from a flock. Gen.Sc. Hence top-looking, stalwart, erect in one's bearing (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); toply, adv., finely (Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 139).Slk. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 III. 52:
Top-wether lambs and draft ewes.
Dmf. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 220:
He was a tap tylor for a' that.
Sc. 1970 Scotsman (16 Sept.) 19:
300 ‘Top' Orkney Half-bred Ewe Lambs.

[O.Sc. tap, from 1513.]

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"Tap n.1, v.1, adj.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jul 2024 <>



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