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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 2001 (DOST Vol. IX).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Stank, n.1 Also: stanke, stanck(e, stonk, stunk, stang. [ME and e.m.E. stank, stang (both Cursor M.), staunk (1358), stange (Caxton), stanck(e (1603), OF estanc, med. L. sta(n)gnum, stancum (*1086 and c1472 in Latham).]

1. A pond; freq. one specially built or used for keeping fish and, as such, one of the appurtenances of an estate; a pool or other piece of standing water smaller than a loch. b. A stretch of slow-moving water, a ditch; a sluggish stream or river. c. A moat.Also in place-names. 12… Reg. Dunferm. 223.
Usque le Castilstank
1397 Rot. Sc. II 142/2.
Ceste endenture faite a Hawedenstank
1398 Rot. Sc. II 143/2.
Apud Houden Stank
a., b. (1) 1195 Lindores Chart. 4.
[In aquis et molendinis in stangnis et uiuariis et piscariis
1304 Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 39.
Tenendam et habendam … in moris et maresiis in stangnis et molendinis
1451 Reg. Episc. Morav. 224.]
In boscis … aquis stangnis
a1400 Leg. S. ii 349.
The men thar by purpos has tane To dry the stank
1386 Slater Early Sc. Texts No. 10.
The forsaide landis with al appertenances … in wais in roddis in vivaris in stankis in muris in marras [etc.]
c1420 Wynt. v 4407. 14.. Acts I 109/2.
Al thai that hes cruffis or fyschingis or stankis or mylnys in watteris quhar … the ȝong salmondis or smoltis … cumis and gangis
1441 (1449–50) Reg. Great S. 69/2.
Watteris, ways, roddis, stankis, pasturis
c1460 Wisd. Sol. (STS) 71.
I maid stankis to fisch, and wattiris to ryne in wodis and medewis
1461 Liber Plusc. 382.
Fill burnis wellis reueris and fontayns Baith stankis and louchis and waleis of montayns
1498 Treas. Acc. I 386.
To the stankis casting
1502 Treas. Acc. II 145.
To the fischair … that brocht … fisch to the loch and stankis in Strivelin, v s.
1505–6 Treas. Acc. III 186.
To ane othir fischair brocht lamper elis and pikis to the stankis of Strivelin, v s.
1513 Doug. vii iii 5.
Spyis … fand ane stank that flowyt from a well … This was the flude of Tibir thai had fund [L. haec fontis stagna … hunc Thybrim fluvium]
c1520-c1535 Nisbet Luke v 2.
Twa bootis standing beside the pule (or stank)
1533 Boece 579.
The Erle of Marche … with his hoist … movit fordwart to Perth … filling the fowssyis and grathing passage oure the stankis
1532 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 127.
All heidrowmes and stankis quhair thai be within or outoucht our burgh to be maid and casting substantiouslie
1536 Fam. Rose 204.
Yardis, gardingis … ayles, heggingis, and stankis, and all werkis pertenyng to ane gardner
1539 Treas. Acc. VII 160.
Deliverit to the gardenar of the abbay to by pykis to the stankis witht xx s.
1553–4 Edinb. B. Rec. II 283.
Payit to viij men that kost the lang stank on the syde of the North Loch, be-eist Mr. John Thortonis yaird
c1563 Reg. Panmure I cxlv.
Ane wther stank standine at the east end of that foussey
1574 Glasgow B. Rec. (MC) 12.
That the said Thomas stank to be maid rys na hichtar nor the said maister Dauidis seller flure
a1578 Pitsc. I 337/7. a1595 Descr. Isles 435.
Thay will cast ane fowssie or stank throw the … moss, quhairby the water may easier pas away
1589 Exch. R. XXII 41.
For casting aud redding of the auld and new stankis about the medowis of Falkland
1597–8 Reg. Great S. 214/2.
Fossam lie stank or dyk prope metas
1603 Reg. Great S. 542/1.
Lie puile sive stank
1609 Skene Reg. Maj. ii 56b.
Of standand water in stankis
1619 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 244.
The stank and seuche betuix ther ȝairdis
1623 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 285.
John Cannane ordanit to clange his stank or ellis to tyne the samen
1624 Falkirk Par. Rec. I 47. 1622-6 Bisset II 255/3.
[? The letting of] stankis is in season frome the middist of September, to the middist of Merche etc.
1629 Inverness Rec. II 167.
Stanck [pr. stauck]
1638 Aboyne Rec. 281.
Mosses mures gates rods waters stanks springs meadowes
c1641–54 J. Gordon in Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 551.
The high hill of Bhearnish with the haughis and stank therof
a1646 Wedderburn Voc. (1709) 5.
Stagnum, a ditch or stank
1647 Glasgow B. Rec. II 115.
To caus pleughe and harrow [the] Grein … and to mack it evine and to dres about the stanke
1660 Lamont Diary 124.
The stanks about Lundy were cast, viz. vpward from the Links to the Dowcat Wynde, and from thence round about the Birks, and vpward to the Whynny Knowe
1666 Kirkcaldy B. Rec. MS 8 Jan.
To mairche thair mosse in such a maner that thair may be a dich and stank of such breidth that all occasiones of discords may be taken away
1668 Kirkcudbr. Sheriff Ct. Deeds I 226.
1673 E. Loth. Antiq. Soc. II 19.
For … laying of the syver in the stank at the east syde of the builing green
1679 Russell Account 442.
There was a great gutter like a stank
1688 Monimail Reg. Ct. 16 May (see 5 (3) below). 1689 Foulis Acc. Bk. 107.
At carting the flags for the stanks
16… Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. III 111.
Peffer is rather a stank than a water … and has two mouths; one running in the sea at … Lufness and the other … near Tininghame and is passable in very few places in the winter
(b) c1630 Macfarlane's Geog. Coll. II 165.
It is now one litle logh being but ane stunk before when the illand was in the midst of it
(c) 1543 Charter (Reg. H.) C.O. No. 100.
The landis … tilbe brukit … with toftis croftis mossis myris marrassis stangis burnis ryveres … pertenand to the samyn
(2) 14.. Acts I 334/2.
Thai tak smoltis in the myll stank again the inhibicioun of law
1451 Ayr B. Ct. 4 Oct.
And the landis next Donald Glwuer on the ta part & the common stank on the tothir part
1478 Liber Aberbr. II 178.
The commone stank off the said burgh
1563 Linlithgow Sheriff Ct. 22 April.
Thre riggis land liand … betuix … the vatter stank on the south
1566 Inchaffray Reg. 128.
To the lang medo stank
1573 Grey Friars 96.
The frier stank benorth the water
1582 Perth B. Ct. 27 Nov.
The inner land … betuix … the passage of the spey stank on the south
1604-31 Craig ii 64.
To stinke like stigian stanks at Hell
1637 Lithgow Siege Breda 5.
They also hemb'd in upon the brink of the water-stank with a strong double hedge of thornes
1676 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. MS 28 Sept.
The common stanks of the said burghe
c. 1535 Stewart 6734.
Ane nobill toun … wallit … with lyme and stone With dowbill stank and fowsseis mony one
1535 Stewart 12754.
Quhair that the Romanis had thair strenthis maid With stankis greit and mony foussie braid
1535 Stewart 13762.
To force the wall, wes maid on euirilk syde Stankis rycht strang that wer bayth deip and wyde
a1540 Freiris Berw. 10 (B).
For it is wallit weill abowt with stane, And dowbill stankis castin mony ane

d. transf. Hell, seen as a pool of everlasting fire. 1554 Knox III 213.
Sathan and his adherentis … sal be casten in the stank [1st edn. stanke or lake] burning with fire whilk never sal be quencheit

2. The area of ground around a pond or a number of ponds; passing into a place-name in Stank of Fowles. 1589 Perth Kirk S. in Lawson Bk. Perth 183.
The sabbath-day is broken by such as carry loads through the stanks
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 194.
Sche saw Williame McGilliewareycht-dame, about Pasch, … delyuer to theé … ane buist of wichcraft, within the Stank of Fowles
1590 Crim. Trials I ii 195.
He … delyuerit itt to theé … within Stank of Fowles
1688 Newton Community Bk. 6b.
The grass of the stankis including the gaitsyde short & long are roped to Mungo Ramsay
1700 Foulis Acc. Bk. 273.
Thar is 3 plum imps in the wester stank in the north border of the quarter
17… Hay Geneal. Sainteclaires 136.
The whole body of gypsies were, of old, accustomed to gather in the stanks of Roslin every year, where they acted severall plays

3. ? A pothole, puddle or wet or marshy stretch of road, or perhaps, esp. in the quot. for 1627, merely further examples of sense 1. 1627 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II 163.
[They] dang the loades aff the horsebacke into deepe myres and stonkes sua that the same wes … spoyled
1684 Edinb. City Archives Letters II (28).
She wes necessitat to walk as good as four myles on foot and that above the knee in sknow and many bad stanks met with

4. Appar. an anchorage. 1688 Smout Sc. Trade 294.
When it pleaseth God to send you to the stang of the Wingitt [sc. Vinga, an island off Gothenburg], ye may stop a tyde ther

5. attrib. With braa (Bra n. 1), syd, yaird; caster. Also with way, ? in a fashion so as to make a ‘stank’ rather than a hole.(1) 1579 (1581) Reg. Great S. 73/1.
And thairfra passand south as the stank bra on the eist syde of the stank lyis [etc.] … and thairfra passand west about as the new stank braa lyis … and thairfra … north as the stank braa on the west syde of the stank lyis [etc.]
1592 Marischal Coll. Rec. I 17.
Totam et integrum illum hortum lie stank yaird
1656 Brodie Diary 184.
I lay down on a filthi stank syd, and was feard for teads, and asks
1679 Russell Account 443.
Presently Clavers advanced all in a body to the stank bree
(2) 1498 Treas. Acc. I 386.
To Schir Johne Ramsay, he gaif the stankis castaris in Striuelin, be the kingis command, ix s.
1625 M. Works Acc. (ed.) II 167.
The stank casteris in the park
(3) 1688 Monimail Reg. Ct. 16 May.
The said day ordaines the heall tennents of Lethem to read the stanks in Lethem myre and what peats they cast to cast them stank way and not in hols

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"Stank n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 25 Mar 2023 <>



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