Show Search Results Show Browse

Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

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

WIRK, v., n. Also wurk. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. work, v. See also Wark. [wɪrk; wʌrk]

I. v. A. Forms. 1. Pr.t. wirk (Gsw. 1807 J. Chirrey Misc. Poetry 97; Crm. 1869 H. Miller Tales 208; Ags. 1872 J. Kennedy Jock Craufurt 53; Ork. 1904 W. T. Dennison Sketches 30; Sh. 1918 T. Manson Peat Comm. 196; Abd. 1936 D. Bruce Cheengefu' Wordle 23; I., n.Sc. 1974); wurk (Abd. 1804 W. Tarras Poems 129; Bwk. 1911 P. Landreth J. Spindle 3), pseudo-Highl. form wrought from pa.p. (m.Sc. 1842 A. Rodger Stray Leaves 176).

2. Pa.t. wrocht (Rnf. a.1810 R. Tannahill Poems (1900) 276; Edb. 1869 J. Smith Poems 8; Fif. 1887 S. Tytler Logie Town II. xi.; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 2; m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 30; Ags. 1949 Scots Mag. (Sept.) 408). Gen.Sc.; wroucht (Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.; Per. 1895 R. Ford Tayside Songs 17; Ork. 1904 W. T. Dennison Sketches 1; Uls. 1920 J. Logan Uls. in X-Rays 79; Bnff. 1925 G. Cumming A'anside Lilts 82; Lnk. 1930 Hamilton Adv. (8 Feb.) 3), wraucht (Hdg. 1905 J. Lumsden Croonings 56), wirrowcht (Ork. 1903 G. Marwick Old Roman Plough (1936) 5) and, after Eng. forms, wrought (Sc. 1770 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 111; Slg. 1804 G. Galloway Luncarty 81; Sc. 1827 Scott Tales Grandfather xxviii., 1881 A. Mackie Scotticisms 21, 1899 H. G. Graham Social Life II. 247–9), wirout (Ork. 1929 Old-Lore Misc. IX. ii. 77) [roxt, ‡wroxt; Ork., s.Sc. (w)rʌu(x)t]; and n.Sc. forms vrocht (Cai. 1890 J. Sinclair Scenes 232; Abd. 1915 H. Beaton Benachie 48; Bnff. 1934 J. M. Caie Kindly North 48; Abd. 1962 Huntly Express (23 Feb.)), vroucht (Abd. 1879 G. MacDonald Sir Gibbie xxxiii.), vrought (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 111), †vraucht (Hdg. 1903 J. Lumsden Toorle 237) [‡vroxt]; wirkit (Abd. 1935 M. C. Wilson Sutor's Sujaistions 10; Sh. 1952 Robertson & Graham Sh. Grammar 35); workit; wirkid (Sh., Cai.). 

3. Pa.p. wrocht (Abd. 1719 E. Bain Merchant Guilds (1887) 230; s.Sc. 1839 Wilson's Tales of the Borders V. 96; Gsw. 1860 J. Young Poorhouse Lays 83; m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 74; Kcb. 1911 G. M. Gordon Auld Clay Biggin 1; Kcd. 1929 J. B. Philip Weelum o' the Manse 26; Ags. 1970 Dundee Courier (10 Dec.)), wroucht (s.Sc. 1857 H. S. Riddell St Matthew xx. 12; e.Lth. 1893 Scots Mag. (Oct.) 368), wroacht (Rxb. 1927 E. C. Smith Braid Haaick 13), wrought (Mry. 1758 Session Papers, Petition Sir W. Dunbar (24 Feb.) 2; Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 74–5; Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley ix.; Fif. 1830 Perthshire Adv. (9 Sept.); Abd. 1868 W. Shelley Wayside Flowers 66; Ags. 1883 J. Kennedy Poems (1920) 125; Kcb. 1897 T. Murray Frae the Heather 138; Uls. 1953 Traynor); wirrowt (Ork. 1911 Old-Lore Misc. IV. Iv. 185); n.Sc. vrocht (Mry. 1865. W. H. Tester Poems 94; Bnff. 1887 G. G. Green Gordonhaven 63; Abd. 1923 J. R. Imray Village Roupie 23; Bnff. 1958 Banffshire Jnl. (1 April)), vrought (Cai. 1909 D. Houston 'E Silkie Man 5) [‡vroxt]; double form wrochtit; workit (m.Lth. 1922 “Restalrig” Sheep's Heid 57; m.Sc. 1974); wirkid (Sh., Cai.). The form wrocht is still in current use in Sc., though obs. in Eng. exc. in specialised senses or arch. For examples see quots. below, = employed, set to work, handled, manipulated, composed, ornamented, wove(n), mined, etc.2. Sc. 1770 Scots Mag. (Feb.) 111:
She wrought with her hands for her bread.
Sc. 1828 Scott Journal (1894) II. 144, 202:
I wrought three leaves, however, and the story goes on. . . . Violent rheumatic headache all day. Wrought, however.
Per. 1857 D. Gorrie Life of a Ploughboy 31:
Archie Black, who wrought the “second pair.”
Rnf. 1872 J. Young Lochlomond 52:
I' thae days when matters sma' wrocht big affrays.
Abd. 1877 Greeness School Log-Book MS. (19 June):
Wrought sums from Black board and explained Subtraction.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xv.:
There never was the Solan made that wroucht as that Solan wroucht.
Edb. 1900 E. H. Strain Elmslie's Drag-Net 12:
We wrought awa' an' we fought awa' for five years.
m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 67:
I wrocht my squad to mend the track.
Abd. 1943 W. S. Forsyth Guff o' Waur 7:
The twa that vrocht the Braidsea Maid, And kent the marks for ilka rade.
Slk. 1986:
He wrocht at the smiddy a his days.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 23:
Dinna you blether o freedom,
ye dinna ken whit it means. I focht for it,
ay, and whit's mair, wrocht for it tae.
Abd. 1988 Jack Webster Another Grain of Truth (1989) 182:
I was remembering about folk like old Jimmy Park, the bailie at Honeyneuk when my father took on the place, a man who spent his days in undistinguished bliss and typified as well as any the kind of folk who vrocht the grudging acres of Buchan.
Sc. 1991 T. S. Law in Tom Hubbard The New Makars 33:
the ilka day, an sent doon ben
toom rakes o hutches inbye gaein
ginn piece-timm at the darg alow
whoere collier bodies wrocht awo
contrack, or oncost keekiebo.
Abd. 1995 Flora Garry Collected Poems 29:
I steed the dirl, umman, lang or ye vrocht pent.
Shoodert ma birn o dool or ye kent meen fae starns.
3. Sc. 1782 J. Sinclair Ob. Sc. Dial. 161:
A wrought wistcoat. A worked waistcoat.
Sc. 1828 Scott Tales Grandfather xxvii.:
The mines of the country are now wrought only for lead.
m.Lth. 1842 Children in Mines Report (2) 443:
No women work in the Duke's colliery, women are wrought only where lads will not work.
Ags. 1869 R. Leighton Poems 326:
Do this for a week, and the cure will be wrocht.
Bnff. 1871 Banffshire Jnl. (4 July):
My father's grippit wi' his fairm Tho' hard an' sair we a' hae vrocht.
Wgt. 1878 “Saxon” Gall. Gossip 278:
I hae wrocht mony a wab tae ye.
m.Lth. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 74:
Archie was auld by me, but a hale carle yit; he had no' been sair wrocht.
Dmf. 1904 J. Gillespie Humours 52:
Their son, on whose education much money . . . had been spent, had mistaken his profession, and there was no hope of him succeeding as a preacher. The one assented regretfully to the pronouncement of the other in these terms, “We had better hae wrocht oor Peter!”
Slg. 1932 W. D. Cocker Poems 86:
I was ne'er sae hard-wrocht in my life.
Rnf. 1947:
Fair wrochtit — overworked, having too much to do.
Ags. 1988 Raymond Vettese The Richt Noise 21:
An whit o mysel? Whit hae I wrocht
apairt frae yammerin hoo runted's aa this?
Dundee 1991 Ellie McDonald The Gangan Fuit 11:
Laddie, my laddie,
nae words o mine,
wrocht in this course land,
whaur nocht is gotten
wi'ooten pain,
cud ever match
sic sangs o luv
that skail frae safter leids.
m.Lth. 1992:
I'm wrocht tae death wi a this washing.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 119:
'And if I had been taen by Dalyell's men,' Mitchel went on, 'I would hae been hingit, and I canna be hingit till I hae wrocht God's purpose. Which, sirs, isna yet for ye or me tae ken.'

B. Usages. 1. As in Eng. (1) Sc. combs., derivs. and phrs.: (i) to wirk (one's) wark, to do one's own or another's work, to perform what one is employed to do (I., ne.Sc. 1974); †(ii) to work to oneself, to go to stool, ease nature (Lth. 1825 Jam.); (iii) wirker, a worker (I.Sc. 1974); (iv) workie, informal term for a manual worker; (v) workingsome, fit for work, able-bodied, only in phr. meat hale and wirkinsome; (vi) wrocht, (a) of cream: whipped, beaten; (b) of cheese: having the curd pressed and broken (Abd. 1959).(i) Rnf. 1720 W. Hector Judicial Rec. (1878) II. 182:
He is so disabled that [he] heath not wrought his ordinary work since.
Per. 1857 D. Gorrie Life of Ploughboy 43:
The farmer looks for a man that can “work his wark.”
Lnk. 1865 J. Hamilton Poems 35:
She wrocht her wark an' never lintit.
Edb. 1881 J. Smith Jenny Blair 75:
I wrocht their wark wi' redoubled vigour.
Ork. 1904 Dennison Sketches 1:
I keepid kye that summer, and wroucht halflin' wark the year efter.
Abd. 1932 Abd. Book-Lover VII. iii. 70:
But fat's wantit here, my bonnie man, Is a wife tae wirk the wark!
Abd. 1973 Huntly Express (25 May):
I cam' here tae wirk yer wark, an' nae tae fecht yer battles.
(iii) Abd. 1916 G. Abel Wylins 12:
Whaur a' thrives to eident wirkers.
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 48:
Wirkers war like cushies in the park, fechtin fur ony crumb that fell frae the pooches o the rich.
(iv) Edb. 1991 Gordon Legge In Between Talking about the Football 1:
From collar-buttoned workies shirts to baggy, baggy t-shirts.
Edb. 1995 Irvine Welsh Marabou Stork Nightmares (1996) 78:
My Dad's brother always talked about how lawless the city centre was at night; he went on and on about the gangs of black workies from rival tribes who lived in the hostels and ran amok in the city centre after dark, mugging and beating up each other and anyone else who crossed their path.
Sc. 1997 Glaswegian (10 July):
And whether you find them a turn-on or just an embarrassment, those lusty workies are exposing themselves to something nastier than a chorus of female wolf-whistles.
Edb. 1999:
When will the workies be finished?
Sc. 2004 Edinburgh Evening News (2 Feb) 11:
The problem is that - usually - posh people tend to be slightly more camera shy than the ordinary workie who can't resist an hour of fame.
Sc. 2004 Edinburgh Evening News (16 Mar):
... there is nothing insulting about a workie whistling at you but plenty to feel peeved about when they don't bother.
Gsw. 2004 Herald (13 Oct) 14:
He runs upstairs, dashes out into the street and tells the drill-wielding workie's foreman: "You've drilled through the roof of my shop!"
(v) wm.Sc. 1835 Laird of Logan 91:
Your a' abune the blankets, I hope, meat hale, and workingsome.
Abd. 1924 M. Argo Janet's Choice 22:
Oh, she's meat-hale an' wirkin' some.
(vi) (a) Bnff. c.1890 Gregor MSS.:
When “clyack” is taken, there is a feast, and at the feast there is always a particular dish called “vrocht milk” . . . whisked with the “froh-stick.”
(b) Dmb. 1794 D. Ure Agric. Dmb. 74–5:
It is called wrought when the curds are repeatedly broken with the hand in separating the whey. And when they become solid they are carefully broken with the hand and cut small with a knife; then they are squeezed in linen cloths and rubbed small with the hands till they become dry and pulverised and ready for the chesset.

(2) with advs. and preps.: (i) work about, to come to pass, happen; (ii) work at, to manhandle, in quot. euphem. of torture; (iii) work for, to behave so as to deserve, to earn (punishment or retribution) (Sh., Cai., Abd., Per. 1974); (iv) work (oneself) intil, to acquire gradually by working; (v) work on, of time: to approach, advance to (a certain hour) (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.); (vi) wirk wi, to employ, use (Sh., Cai., Abd., Per. 1974); to have to do with in gen.(i) w.Sc. 1898 J. M. Henderson Our Jeames 22:
It wrought about that just as we were passing the door o' the inn, the landlord himsel' happened to step out.
(ii) Sc. 1752 Lyon in Mourning (S.H.S.) III. 124:
They tiyed him to a ston and worked at him there.
(iii) Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr. Duguid 21:
A sarkfu' o' sair banes for the sins of ilka meenont of the day would be nae mair than we hae wrocht for.
Sc. 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ ii. x. 3:
Yer paikin' was weel wrocht for.
Abd. 1940 C. Gavin Hostile Shore xv.:
The ablach only got what he vrocht for.
(iv) Gall. a.1897 R. Ringan's Plewman Cracks 14:
I wrocht mysel' in the forenichts intil a hantle o' lair.
(vi) Sh. 1885 Shetland News (26 Dec.):
As sune as Baabie got up, shu took an' clootit Seemun's lug, an' bade him notice wha he wrought wi' neist time.
Sh. 1958 New Shetlander No. 46. 18:
Kirsie wirks wi dis soda in her bannocks, bit I'm never wroucht wi him in drink afore.
Abd. 1969:
I've wrocht plenty wi pottie but never wi mastic.

2. tr. To earn (wages) by working.Rxb. 1700 Stitchill Ct. Bk. (S.H.S.) 144:
Ane harvest fie wrought be the said Jennett Mill.

3. tr. To look after, tend, herd (animals) (Ags., Per., m.Lth. 1974).Slk. 1947 W. Addison Ettrick Verse 19:
A herd was workin the inby sheep.

4. tr. Of sheep: to scrape away snow with the feet to get at the herbage below.Rnf. 1859 Trans. Highl. Soc. 178, 180:
Filled up with snow to such a depth as to render it a matter of impossibility for them [sheep] to “work” it (as their scraping the snow is called) . . . They moved with difficulty and “wrought” (scraped) very languidly.

5. tr. To purge, act as a laxative medicine on (Sc. 1905 E.D.D.; I., ne.Sc., Per. 1974). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial.

6. tr. To sprain (Gall. 1825 Jam.). Comb. wrought-bane, a sprained joint (MacTaggart; Abd. 1974, -been).Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 487:
How often reapers have the shackle-bane wrought in the harrest time.

7. tr. To affect physically or mentally, gen. for the worse; to trouble, vex, annoy, deal severely with.Abd. 1768 A. Ross Helenore (S.T,.S.) 36:
[A fever] which wrought him sae that . . . He was full ready for his hindmost dress.
Abd. 1790 A. Shirrefs Poems 91:
I sud be blyth that baith the lads were wrought.
Sc. 1825 Jam.:
I'll wurk him for that yet.
Ayr. 1887 J. Service Dr Duguid 218:
Onybody she took an ill will at, — dod! she wrocht them dreedfully.
Ags. 1921 V. Jacob Bonnie Joann 30:
The Elder's twisted mou' That wrocht him a' the journey through! [in trying to conceal his mirth].

8. tr. To work through, study, learn from (a text-book).Abd. 1892 Innes Review VII. i. 19:
The books we used were first “Proverbs” — a sma' book of 20 or 30 pages without brods. They wrought her first o' a'.

9. intr. To act in a particular way, to go about a business, to conduct oneself. Obs. in Eng.Lnk. 1919 G. Rae Clyde and Tweed 55:
Some said that Paitrick meddled wi' a dram, But be this sae he maun hae wrocht wi' care.
Abd. 1974:
He wrocht (awa) gey cannie for a file till he saw his chance.

10. To be in a commotion, to toss and roll about. Sh. 1948 New Shetlander No. 8. 9:
Whin da boat began ta wirk i da sea.

II. n. Used for the reg. n. form Wark in comb. deid-wirk, the death-agony. See also Death, n., II. 12. and Deid, n.Crm. 1834 H. Miller Scenes (1857) 471:
The deid wirk i' her bonny hause Was wirkin' a' that day an' nicht.

[O.Sc. wirk, to work, from 1375, wurk, 1581, North. Mid.Eng. wirk(k), O.E. wyrcan, the -k being due partly to O.N. yrkja, partly to work, n.]

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Wirk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse SND: