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

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First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XI).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Wag, v. Also: waig, wagg(e, wagh, wague, vag. [ME and e.m.E. wagge(n (Ancr. R.), wag (Rolle), wage (c1532), f. as OE warᵹian. Cf. Waw v.]

1. a. intr.To move to and fro, to shake, tremble, sway, stagger.(a) c1409-1436 Kingis Q. § 60.
Blawe wynd, blawe, … That sum twig may wag, and mak hir to wake
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 153/98.
Mony a waistles wallydrag with wamis unweildable did furth wag
a1572 Knox I 147.
Syd gounis mycht have bene sein wantonly wag from the one wall to the other
(b) a1500 Henr. Fab. 840.
Thair he hard ane buisteous bugill blaw Quhilk as him thocht maid all the warld to waig [Ch. wag]
15.. King Berdok 43.
Quhen thay saw the bus waig to & fra [etc.]

b. tr.To cause (something) to move to and fro, shake. Also const. up. Also to wag a wand in (the) water, to do something futile; to make (a person) wagg in a widdie, to hang (him). Cf. Waw v. 2.(1) c1520-c1535 Nisbet Matthew xi 7.
Quhat thing went ye out into desert to se? A reede waggit with wind?
a1578 Pitsc. II 64/12.
Ane preist standing at the allter saying mese, was lyk ane fox wagand his taill in Julie
1600–1 State P. (Reg. H.) No. 108/10, 18.
They … vagging thair handis wp sayand ȝe sall pay for it
c1610 Melville Mem. 171.
Bot the sattiers … pat ther handis behind them to ther tailes, quhilkis they waggit with ther handis
1634 Johnston Diary I 233.
Wagging that heavie rod over myne head
1665 Lauder Jrnl. 120.
They take a peice of wood thats brunt only at one end and goes thorow the toune waging it from one syde to the other it casting a litle light
(2) a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 420.
Of … foolish persons: He wags a wand in the water
1581-1623 James VI Poems II 111/35.
Alike in water for to wagg a wande As speare for her [sc. Justice]
(3) 1638 Rothes Affairs Kirk 165.
If they wer found guiltie, to make them wagg in a widdie

2. fig.a. intr.To function, behave; to interact, associate with others. Also proverb. a1500 Henr. Test. Cress. 196.
Ane horne he [sc. Mars] blew … Quhilk all this warld with weir hes maid to wag
a1568 Scott xxxiv 89.
Ȝe wantoun wowaris waggis [M. vagis] With thame that hes the cunȝe
1570 Sat. P. xvi 1.
This warld it waggis [v.r. waghis] I wat not how
a1585 Polwart Flyt. 776 (H).
Buttrie bagg, fill knagg, thow will wagg with thy fellows
a1605 Montg. Sonn. xxiii 3.
If he be wysest, with the world that waggis
proverb. c1568 Lauder Minor P. i 76.
Thir flattrers … Dois wag about aye as the busse it wags
1569-73 Bann. Memor. 302.
He could wagge as the busse wagged, and take the way that micht make him advancment
1600-1610 Melvill 362.
The King haid determined to bring ham the papist lords again, and lyked of nan that wald nocht wag as the bus waggit
1624 Hist. Carnegies II 87.
I intend to wague as the busch wagues

b. tr.To cause to function. Only proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. No. 487.
It is fair in hall, where beards wags all

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"Wag v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



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