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

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First published 2000 (DOST Vol. VIII).
This entry has not been updated but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Sark, Serk, n. Also: sarke, shark; sairk; syrk. [North. and midl. ME serc (Cursor M.), serke (Manning), scherk (14th c.), late ME sarke (c1440), north. e.m.E. sark (1515), OE serc, ON serk-r. Also in mod. Sc., as sark, serk, and in mod. north. Eng. dial., as sark.]For further examples see the Indexes to the various volumes of Treas. Acc. s.v. Shirt(s).

1. The male or female body-garment worn nearest the skin; a shift, chemise, shirt. Also fig.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xl 1080.
Al nakit, bot sark & breke
1572 Sat. P. xxxiii 369.
Buft brawlit hois, coit, dowblet, sark, and scho
(b) c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 142/46.
In serk and mantill eftir hir I went In to this garth
Id. Tua Mar. W. 471.
Thoght I haif cair undir cloke the cleir day quhill nyght, Ȝit haif I solace undir serk quhill the sone ryse
(2) indef. art. c1515 Asl. MS I 317/7.
A wennomus sark
c1500-c1512 Dunb. Flyt. 223.
I se him want ane sark [: clerk, bark, merk]
1549 Compl. 80/27. 15.. Wyf Awcht. 43.
Ane gud new sark
1601 Aberd. Eccl. Rec. 184.
The forme of it … wes lyke ane litill bodie … cled in quhyt lening lyk a sark
1623 Perth Kirk S. MS 14 May.
The said Margaret … ressaueit for waigeis, ane sark and ane pair schone
1643 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 703.
Ane cassine sark worth xij s.
(b) 1483 Acta Aud. *112/1.
A doublat and a serk
(c) 1536 Linlithgow B. Ct. 13 Nov.
To … pay James Cryus vij s. of siluer & ane syrk
1562 Carte Northberwic 86.
Ane bonet ane syrk
pl. a1400 Leg. S. xx 240.
Sewine sarkis schene He gert lay a-pone the grene
c1536 Lynd. Compl. Bagsche 88.
Find me ane dog … Hes maid sa mony bludie sarkis
1563 Ferg. Answer in 1563-72 Tracts 20.
Where are ye commanded to dissagyse your selues lyke players … with shauen crownes, long wide sarkes aboue your clothing [etc.]
1575 Bk. Univ. Kirk I 335.
In the ministers … we thinke … vnseimlie … all kynd of … variant hews in sarks … as red, blew, ȝeallow
1650 J. M. Beale Fife Schools 143.
[To] buy ane sutte of cloathes, … also sailing cloathe as well four sarkes to him
(b) 1652 Caldwell P. 106.
For unbleichit claith to be serks to the lard
(3) def. art. 1577 St. A. Kirk S. 424.
Withtout al clathis bot the sark, quhilk al was brynt the sleiffis except
1580 Inverness Rec. I 281.
[He] was constranit … to mak calffing to his boit of the sark was on his bak
1623 Crim. Trials III 556.
Luiking at the breist of the sark he tauld that the seiknes was nocht cum as ȝit to his heart
(b) a1500 Henr. Bludy Serk 81.
1492 Myll Spect. 278/17.
Hercules … was … slane be his lady Dyonera throw the inuennomyt serk scho maid him to weir
pl. a1400 Leg. S. xx 244.
Othyre thir serkis tak ȝe lo And [etc.]
(4) possess. a1500 Henr. Garmont 9.
Hir sark suld be hir body nixt, … Hir kirtill suld be [etc.] … , Hir gown suld be [etc.]
Id. Bludy Serk 62.
Vnlusum was his likame dicht, His sark was all bludy
c1475 Wall. ix 1181.
In haist his weid off castis he: … Held on his sark, … and syn lap in the flud
1511–12 Treas. Acc. IV 334.
To Luke of the wardrop to feche Sanct Margaretis sark to the quene
1513 Doug. xii Prol. 269.
On fut I sprent into my bair sark
a1540 Glencairn in Knox I 74.
Your cord and lowsie coit and sark
1542 Elgin Rec. I 70.
And thairefter riffing of his flesch, clays and sark
c1550 Lynd. Meldrum 125.
Of ȝallow taftais wes hir sark, Begaryit all with browderit wark
15.. Clar. iii 484.
Furth scho did hir marke In treases with hir kirtill and hir sarke
a1568 Montg. Bann. MS 163a/8.
Sawis seindill saffroun in sawt for thair sarkis saik
a1570-86 Maitl. F. clxxviii 88.
Thay gloir in thair weill ruffit sark [: wark]
1617 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. VIII 346.
Ane man … come to hir with ane bairnis sark to be charmt
1623 Perth Kirk S. MS 16 May.
Efter that tuik the watter with the bairnes sark … and kaist baith in the burne
1692 Presb. Eloq. (1693) 102.
She got up in her sark and said, … do not come near me for I'm naked
(b) 1488 Treas. Acc. I 83.
King Robert Brucis serk
1534 Selkirk B. Ct. (ed.) 144.
Gudis of ayrschip … his hat, his bonet, his best serk
1572 Buch. Detect. (1727) 4.
[He] cast ane nicht gowne ouer his serk, and as he was half nakit ran to her in haist
(c) 1584 Reg. Privy C. III 708.
As his bludie sairk beiris witnes
pl. 1591 Crim. Trials I ii 250.
Ye gaif twa fair cleane sarkis of your husbandis … to be inchantit be thame
1600 Hamilton Facile Tr. 435.
To change thair wyfis … as oft almaist as thay do thair sarkis
(5) proverb. (see Kirtil(l n. 2 (1) (c)).(6) fig. a1538 Abell 16b.
Sone thai wald denude thame of sark of symony and restore the frut of sic benefice

b. With defining terms specifying a function, type of material, place of origin, etc.For some further examples, see Hardin n. and adj. 2 (2), Linin adj. and n. B 3 (b), Losin(g n. 4 a, and Losinit adj.(1) 1521 Stirling B. Rec. I 13.
Ane gray bonat, ane nicht courchre and hus sark
1522 Treas. Acc. V 193.
For x elnis of claith for nycht sarkis to the kingis grace
1544 Ib. VIII 292.
Lynyng claith to be ryding sarkis
1643 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 100.
[To provide the apprentice with] ane new per of shone with ane straiking serk
(2) 1571 Sempill Sat. P. xxviii 69.
My steming sark & rokket was laid doun
1622 Pope's New-Year Gift.
With linnen sarke, and no more was she cledde
1649 Bk. Dunvegan 122.
Ane yellow wollin shark
1650 Dumfries Treas. Acc.
When the hair sarkes war put wpon the wyfes [sc. witches] in the touboth
c1650 Spalding II 388.
Ane syd Holland cloth sark
(3) c1550 Rolland Ct. Venus i 127.
[A] noble seme was on his sark of Rence [sc. Rennes]
1578 Inv. Wardrobe 215.
Ane hieland syd serk of yallow lyning pasmentit with purpour silk and silver

c. (In) sark alane (alone), wearing only a ‘sark’.Freq. as a penitential form of dress. 1504 Edinb. B. Rec. I 100.
He to cum on Sounday with ane walx candill in sark alane and ask the provest forgevenis
1530–1 Maxwell Mem. I 261.
The sayd Schir James sall cum sarkallane to the mercat croce … and than sall offer ane nakyit schowrd … to the sayd Erle of Lennox
1535 Stewart 43396.
He … sark allane, for mair mereit and meid, And barfeit als to Canterberrie ȝeid
1538 Aberd. B. Rec. I 155.
Thai ordane the said Besse … to gang sark alane afore the processioun vith ane vax candill in hir hand of ane pound to be offerit to the haly blud lycht
1545 Elgin Rec. I 84.
Sayand the said Margarat Baffour vas ane huyr and ane wyche and that sche ȝeid widersonnis about mennis hous sark alane and hir hayr abone hir eyne for wyche craft
1548 Aberd. B. Rec. I 258. 1551 Cupar B. Rec. 1 June. 1563–4 Old Dundee II 358.
[The bailies] decernit that … he sall come to the mercat cross sark alane, his head discoverit, and, upon his knees, tak his whinger be the point and deliver the same to John
1566 Prestwick B. Rec. 70. 1566 Reg. Privy C. I 460.
His barneman being threscheand and laubourand sark allane, he crewellie invadit him
1568 Buch. Indict. 34.
According to hir [sc. Queen Mary's] comandment [he] past to hir chalmer sark alane onlie coverit with his nycht gowne
1594 Misc. Spald. C. II 123.
Cheissit him sark alane and naikit, fra the said hous
1608 Perth Hammermen xxxvi. 1616 Reg. Privy C. X 488.
The minister, who wes lying sleiping in his bed, … rais, sark allane, and preast to have relevit the said Jonnet
1622 Perth Kirk S. MS 21 Oct.
That scho saw theme naikit sark alone in the said Elspeth bed
1628 Reg. Privy C. 2 Ser. II 236. 1633 Orkney Bp. Ct. MS 87.
He went out and stayit the space of ane hour or mair sark allone

d. Attrib. (also possess.) with collar, hand, etc.; and comb. with cote, and, in pl., washar.Also Sark-wylycote n.attrib. (possess.) 1538–9 Treas. Acc. VII 144.
iij boltis of Parys rubanis … for sark collaris and handis
1599 Ib. MS.
Small linning to band the … sarkis and sarkhandis
c1500 Crying of Play 70.
Scho fischit all the Spanȝe seis With hir sark lape befor hir theis
1673 Kingarth Par. Rec. 87.
And that the crook hand took his sark lap and hinderd him that he took not that woman
1575 Edinb. Test. III 328b.
xv sark nekkis price xxj s.
1582 Ib. XI 33b.
I leue to Walter my bruther … sex of my best sark neckis and alsmony sark handis
1584 Misc. Bann. C. I 105.
He then presented himself to the heading-stock, his eyes being covered with a napekine … , his sark neck removed be him and doublet neck laid doun over from his shoulders
1594 Misc. Spald. C. II 127.
Certane sarkis neckis, and schone
1595 Edinb. Test. XXVIII 236.
His halie day claythtis as hat cloik breikis hors doublet sark schone sark nekis with al thingis belangand thairto
1578 Inv. Wardrobe 238.
Ane packet of sairkis slevis and hois for thame [sc. dolls]
1615 Reg. Privy S. MS 21 Nov.
Tua auld sarksleiffis
1648 Edinb. Test. LXIV 52.
Ane combing cloath and ane pair of lining serk sleivs
comb. 1591 Warrender P. II 161.
Quhils the erle Bothuel was in Italy his sarks washar sayd … that he to quhome belonged these sarks … suld be beheded by his prence
1600 Treas. Acc. MS 68b.
Fyne small plaiding to be his sark coittis

2. = Sarking vbl. n.2 2. 1539–41 M. Works Acc. (ed.) I 281.
For … the fluringis of the gret turngres heid the heid and tymmer prik ruiff and sark of the samyn

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"Sark n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 3 Dec 2022 <>



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