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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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

THACK, n., v.1 Also thak (Sc. 1808 Jam.); thake (Abd. 1793 Trans. Bch. Field Club XIV. 76), theck (Cai. 1902 J. Horne Canny Countryside 12; Bnff. 1972), thekk, thaik (Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. v. 183; Cai. 1972); and I.Sc. forms tak; taek(k), taik, teak, tek(k). See T, letter, 9. (v). Sc. forms and usages of Eng. thatch (see etym. note). [Sc. θɑk; n.Sc. + θɛk; I.Sc. tɑk, tɛk]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., the covering of straw, heather, reeds, etc., laid on a house-roof, a hay-rick or corn-stack for protection, the material used for thatching (Sc. 1808 Jam.); fig. the hair of the head. Gen.Sc. Hence thackless, of a roof: without thatch; of the head: bald, hairless, uncovered, hatless.Gsw. 1717 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 618:
The roof is unsuficient for want of thack.
Rnf. 1790 A. Wilson Poems 88:
Rain seeps thro' the thack.
Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 17:
Want minds them on a thackless scaup.
Dmf. 1810 R. Cromek Remains 284:
Some priest maun preach in a thackless kirk.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. viii.:
Ye have riven the thack off seven cotter houses.
Per. 1871 A. Maclagan Balmoral 158:
The wild Hielan' heather grows thick on its thack.
Wgt. 1877 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 48:
The verra sparrows were frichten't oot o' the thack.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xviii.:
The auld Redheuch tower stands thackless.
Lnk. 1902 A. Wardrop Hamely Sk. 145:
Through the rafters, up thro' the thack.
Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 19:
Nae for ane wi' sic a croon O' fitened thack.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood xvii.:
I would have you get out as fast as a bird when the thack's burnin'.
Mry. 1932 E. Gilbert Spindrift 34:
She wore a seaweed wreath Upon her theck o' ropy hair.

Phr. thack and raip, the thatch of a house, stack, etc., and the ropes of straw by which it is tied down (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.), also attrib., ppl.adj. thack-and-raipit, of a roof: covered with thatch and roped down; also in fig. senses of what is tidy, comfortable or well-secured, as in or under thack and raip, in order, snug (Sc. 1808 Jam., 1816 Scott Antiquary Gl.), out of a' thack and raip, in a muddled or disorderly manner (Sc. 1888 C. Mackay Dict. Sc. Lang. 233), and in transf. jocular usages: under- and outer clothing (Fif. c.1850 Peattie MS.).Ayr. 1786 Burns Brigs of Ayr 26:
Thack and rape secure the toil-won crap.
Sc. 1815 Scott Guy M. l.:
We'll a' be as right and tight as thack and rape can make us.
Sc. 1817 Hogg Tales (1874) 155:
A bien rannle-bauks, and tight thack and rape o'er their heads.
Abd. 1845 G. Murray Islaford 119:
Ye miss the tacksman's auld clay biggin's Wi' hamely thack-and-raipit riggin's.
e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 35:
Now hairst is ended — thack an' rape Secure a sonsy, weel-won crap.
Abd. 1921 Swatches o' Hamespun 10:
Sinnert hoosies an thack-an'-raip riggins.
Abd. 1956 J. Murray Rural Rhymes 8:
Tae see the stacks 'neth thack an' raip.

2. Coarse grass cut and dried like hay, used orig. as thatch, as litter for cattle and subsequently as natural manure for the fields (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 217, 1934 A. C. O'Dell Hist. Geog. Sh. 80). Also in Eng. dial.Sh. 1845 Stat. Acc.2 XV. 164:
A good deal of coarse hay, known by the vernacular name of Tekk.

3. Combs.: (1) thack biggin, a thatched cottage; (2) thack-bunch, a bundle of straw for thatching; ¶(3) thack-cot, = (1); (4) thack-covered, thatched; (5) thatch-drop, that part of a thatched roof which overhangs the walls, the eaves. See Easin, 6.(2); (6) thack-gate, taek-gait, thatch-, (i) the sloping top of a gable-wall which has no coping and is overlaid by the thatch (Rxb. 1825 Jam., ‡1923 Watson W.-B.; Sh. 1972, taek-); (ii) the space between the wall of a house and the covering of thatch where tools may be kept, the eaves under the thatch (Per. 1972); (7) thack-house, a thatched house. Gen.Sc., obsol.; ¶(8) thack-lead, a roofing of lead; (9) thack-nail, a wooden peg used to fasten down thatch (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Also in Nhb. dial.; (10) thack-pin, id. (Sc. 1887 Jam.; Ags., Per. 1972); (11) thack-raip, a straw-rope used to secure thatch on a house or stack (Sc. 1887 Jam.). Gen.Sc.; (12) thack-ruifed, -reufed, having a thatched roof; (13) thack-scythe, tek-sy, a scythe for cutting heather or other thatching material (Sh. 1972); (14) thack sheaf, a sheaf of thatch; (15) thack-spurtle, a pronged stick used for pushing bundles of straw into the thatch of a roof (Bnff. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XI. 185). See Spurtle, n., 3.; (16) thack-strae, straw for thatching; (17) thack-wyse, a wisp or bunch of straw (Bnf. 1972). See Wass.(1) Lnl. 1910 J. White Eppie Gray 16:
The auld thack biggin is awa.
(2) e.Lth. 1885 S. Mucklebackit Rural Rhymes 171:
Like a scared little mousie under a thack-bunch on a thrashing day.
(3) Fif. 1886 W. Wilson Echoes of Anvil 104:
When within the wee thack-cot.
(4) Lnk. 1895 J. Nicholson Kilwuddie 155:
Our hame was a thack-covered biel'.
(5) Gsw. 1767 Session Papers, Petition A. Leitch (3 Feb.) 14:
The pursuer has a thatch-drop on the west side of his tenement.
(6) (i) Per. 1787 Session Papers, Petition J. Sharp (5 Feb. 1788) Proof 16:
A thatchgate or scarsement is that part of a gable on which the sarking-lath and slates rest, and which is not covered by the skew-stones.
Sh. 1949 J. Gray Lowrie 57:
He wis rivven awa a race o' faels, lavin' da taek gait lyin bare.
(ii)Rnf. 1735 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1876) 244:
Fire was also Lodged in the Thatch-gate of his Corn-barn.
(7) Sc. 1708 Burgh Rec. Gsw. (1908) 432:
Some laigh thack houses lying at the back or north side of the tolbooth.
Sc. 1725 Ramsay Gentle Shep. ii. i.:
A snug Thack-house, before the Door a Green.
Rnf. 1815 W. Finlayson Simple Rhymes 23:
Sith ye are undoubted lairdie O' mony a guid thack-house, an' yardie.
Ags. 1883 Brechin Advert. (23 Jan.) 3:
An auld thack hoose at the wast side o' Jeems Towns' yaird style.
Bwk. 1890 Hist. Bwk. Nat. Club XIII. 64:
A twae storey heigh thack-house.
Dmf. 1899 Country Schoolmaster (Wallace) 370:
Frae a thack house — a but and ben.
Arg. 1902 N. Munro Shoes of Fortune xviii.:
Where the wee thack hooses are at the foot o' the braes.
(8) Fif. 1827 W. Tennant Papistry 214:
Capper and thack-lead aff were tane, Kirk-guttin' clean was finish't.
(11) s.Sc. 1914 Border Mag. (Nov.) 248:
The thack-rapes abune been tichtened.
(12) Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 18:
They wur a' t'aik reufed i that days.
Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. 112:
I' his theck-roofed wee hoosie.
(13) Sh. 1735 Old-Lore Misc. IV. iii. 121:
2 corn hooks and a thack syth.
(14) Abd. 1705 Abd. Jnl. N. & Q. VI. 291:
For 45 thack sheaves to theick the hall of Fechell.
(16) Ags. 1867 G. W. Donald Poems 17:
Lay some weyses o' thack strae on my house.
(17) Abd. 1949 Buchan Observer (18 Oct.):
Straw, or “thack wyse,” as our ancestors would have called such sheaves of straw thatch, is generally, now used to cover the pit, or clamp.

II. v. 1. To thatch, to cover a roof, hay-or corn-stack, etc., with thatch (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1914 Angus Gl.; Ork. 1929 Marw.; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Uls. 1953 Traynor). Gen.Sc. See also Theek; also in a more gen. sense, to cover over, as with thatch.Sc. 1710 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) I. 291:
A house that was thacked with heather.
Mry. 1714 Boharm Parish Mag. (Sept. 1897):
A load of hather for thacking the kirk.
Edb. 1772 Fergusson Poems (S.T.S.) II. 83:
Did I wi' you on yon broom-thackit brae Hound aff my sheep.
Abd. 1824 G. Smith Douglas 134:
Jock wis thackin' a house to be ready for Bess.
Sh. 1891 J. Burgess Rasmie's Büddie 57:
Strong and ticht we bigg wir hooses, Taek dem weel fornenst da blast.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 272:
The stacks hae a' been thackit.
Ork. 1912 Old-Lore Misc. V. ii. 70:
Shu stude i tha kirk-yaird than, an' shu was tekkid wi' heather.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 44:
A muckle crag owerhung the burn, A' thacked wi' blaeberry and fern.
Lth. 1920 A. Dodds Songs of Fields 1:
We've got the hervest hame again, Stacket, thacket, safe again.
Abd. 1932 R. L. Cassie Scots Sangs 47:
The sparrows, though, are haudin' a gey clyauk aboot the easins o' the thackit hoosies.
Ork. 1949 “Lex” But-end Ballans 14:
'Til I hae got him underwey An' sort de room he's thekkid.

Hence (1) thacker, thaiker, a thatcher (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Uls. 1953 Traynor; ne.Sc. 1972); (2) thacking, the act of thatching; the thatch put on. Gen.Sc.(1) Fif. 1719 J. M. Webster Carnock (1938) 167:
To two men for cutting down the old school wunning stones and serving measons and the thacker of the same . . . £15. 13. 4.
Sc. 1736 Ramsay Proverbs (1776) 68:
The thacker said to his man, let us raise this ladder if we can.
Gall. 1934 Gallov. Annual 92:
He's the last o' the thaikers.
Bnff. 1955 Banffshire Jnl. (24 May):
A hedger an' ditcher, an' a thacker forbyes.
(2) Abd. 1716 Burgh Rec. Abd. (B.R.S.) II. 365:
The thacking and covering of houses in the towne with straw and hedder wes very dangerous.
Ags. 1722 A. Jervise Memorials (1885) II. 327:
Given for the thacking of the School.
Kcd. 1890 J. Kerr Reminisc. I. 16:
Tom Murray tries the garden work, an' sometimes the clay thackin'.
Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Iktober 31):
Head-nedmost wi gloy, if ye'r wantin ticght taekkin.
Abd. 1929 J. Alexander Mains and Hilly 170:
Foo partic'lar they ees't to be aboot sic things as rapein' an' thackin'.

2. In jocular use: combs. thackit piece, a slice of bread with butter (Bnff., Abd. 1972), thackit and raipit, spread with both butter and jam (Abd. 1910); thackit stick, an umbrella (Abd. 1911 S.D.D., Abd. 1941).Sh. 1916 J. Burgess Rasmie's Smaa Murr (Aapril 8):
Every jantleman is no taekket wi a sylk hat.

[O.Sc. thak, thatch, 1375, to thatch, 1626, thack-gait, 1674, -hous, 1562, -nayll, 1345, North. Mid.Eng. thakk, corresp. to Southern Eng. thatch, O.E. þæc. See K, letter, 1. The I.Sc. forms are from Norw. dial. tekkja, O.N. þekja, a roof, to roof, thatch. The v. is from the n. See also Theek.]

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



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