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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 since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Slak, n.1 Also: slac(k, slake, slaik, slayk, sleeke. [North. ME slak(ke (? a1400), e.m.E. slake (Malory), slack (1682), ON slakki a hollow between hills. In some senses there may be influence f. Gael. sloc a pit, slough. Also in the later Sc. and north. Eng. dials.]Freq. in place names or as a geographical feature used to define boundaries.

1. a. A hollow or depression in the ground. b. A valley between hills, lower (freq. boggy) ground between stretches of rising ground; a bog or boggy ground such as is freq. found on the floor of a valley.(1) 1456 Exch. R. VI 224.
De ix li. de Catslak
1459 Exch. R. VI 544.
De firmis … loci de Katsclak
1458–9 Burnett of Leys App. 163.
Ascendendo in longitudine tam in aqua quam terra usque ad How slak
1540 Reg. Great S. 488/2.
Discendand … to the heid of the Grene-slak
1554 Prot. Bk. R. Lumsdane 31.
Ascendand the strip of Toddell slak quhill it cum to the taill of the bog of Toddell slak
1565 Bamff Chart. 99.
As the said burn runs … threw the broken myre callit the Broom Slack
1569 Berw. Nat. C. XXIV 424.
The Fairnie slack
1315 (?15 … ) Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 312.
Ad magnam foueam vulgariter lie Greit Slak et Rishypannis
1684 Wodrow Hist. II (1722) App. 166.
William Harknes in Mitchelslaks
pl. a1460 Reg. Cupar A. I 131.
Suth our the hill Bawschaddir … to the blak slakkis
?1516 Dumfries B. Ct. 7a.
Half a akar of land lyand in the vait slaks
1606 Retours I Inq. Spec. Dumfries (38).
6 mercatis terrarum de Gayst Slakkis
1615 Aberd. B. Rec. II 326.
The samen is mercheit be stanes … quhill it come to the end of the Gallow slackis
(2) 1388–9 MacRae Early Sc. Texts No. 2.
And sua vp the slak on the est syde of the teild landis
1513 Doug. xi x 69.
In the how slak be ȝonder woddis syde Full dern I sall my men of armys hyde
1513 Doug. xii Prol. 46.
Moich hailsum stovys ourheldand the slak
1523 Antiq. Aberd. & B. IV 144.
Ascendendo per le Langburne ad le Slak ad verticem seu superiorem partem le Ledgadlie
a1568 Scott ii 185.
Doun the bra Sym braid … Than all the ȝungkerris bad Will … doun the glen to gang … Than gelly Johine … He slippit swiftly to the slak, And rudly doun he raid it
a1568 Bann. MS 156a/22.
Rycht far doun in ȝone slak
1632 Cullen B. Ct. 13 April.
Fra the mekle vynd end to the deip slak
1636 Orkney Bp. Ct. MS 99.
From that doun to the slak within the park to the sea syd
(b) 1576 Prot. Bk. W. Cumming 156b.
(3) 1375 Barb. xiv 536.
In a slak thame enbuschit thai
14… Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 248.
Til it cum til a litil slak
14… Reg. Episc. Aberd. I 248.
On the esthalf of a slak
1535 Stewart 8437. 1535 Stewart 8488.
Ane greit battell … Of armit men thai laid intill ane slak
1570 Sat. P. xxiv 39.
Had not bene ane slack was in the sands, Weill had he payit ȝow tratouris
(b) 1534 Bamff Chart. 65.
1595 Bamff Chart. 143.
Ane how or slaik callit the Firneslak
(c) 1644 Hist. Fragm. I 42.
We … keeped the advantage of a sleeke, and the hills with our horse till the foot … came up
(4) c1420 Wynt. vi 1615.
Fra slak till hyll, oure holme and hycht [W. Fra slak to slak, oure hill and hicht], He trawalyd all day
c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus iii 146.
Quhite as the snaw that euer lay in slak
(b) a1500 Henr. Fab. 1835.
Slonkis and slaik [were] maid slidderie with the sleit
(5) attrib. 1541 Prot. Bk. Sir J. Cristisone 75.
[The lands of Brumehill … descending … to] ald town slak stripe
1315 (15 … ) Antiq. Aberd. & B. II 312.
Ad viam ascendendo Slakmethy et inde descendendo per viam usque ad Slaklethy
1689 Haddington B. Rec. (Robb) 10 Sept.
[The council] ordains the thesaurer to repair the stone work at the slaik dub slouss

2. A (man-made) pit or hole. Also transf., a hollow or dust-bath made by a hen. b. ? A watering hole or pond.Quot. at b may be erron. for Flake n. c1460 Wisd. Sol. 451.
Mony man makis a slak in an-vthir manis vay and fallis fyrst tharin
1513 Doug. viii x 91.
Settand into ane holl valle or slak, Within the lystis for the triumphe mak, War Sabyne virgynys revyst by Romanys
transf. 15.. Lichtoun Dreme 85 (B).
Quhair trow ȝe that I was? Doun in ane henslaik [M. hie slaik] and gat ane fellon fall And lay betuix ane picher and the wall
b. a1578 Pitsc. I 208/11.
Ane woman … standand in ane slake [I. flaik ȝett, 1728 slonk] bringand watter … ran fast away … . The kingis horse seand this lap and fred the slake

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"Slak n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 2 Mar 2024 <>



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