Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

CLEEK, CLICK, Cleik, Kleek, Kliek, Cleeque, n.1 Also dim. cleeky, clickie(-y). [klik Sc., but I.Sc., Abd., Gall. and Dmf. + klɪk]

1. (1) A hook or crook in gen., e.g. such as is used for hanging meat, a lamp, etc., from the ceiling, or suspending a pot over the fire. Edm. Gl. (1866) gives the form kliek for Sh. Gen.Sc. Sh.(D) 1886 “G. Temple” Britta 19:
On the middle of the floor, built up on stones, a bright peat fire was burning, and above it a large cauldron hung on a cleik attached to one of the beams of the roof.
Hdg. 1844 J. Miller Lamp of Lothian iii. i.:
Towards the west end of the bridge, at the head of the arch, on the south side, there is a strong iron cleek, from which it was wont to hang malefactors.

Hence clickett, hooked, having a crook. Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 54–55:
Children, wherever he went, were very fond of him, and hung on by his clickett staff and coat tails.

(2) A walking-stick with a crook. Also used attrib. Sc. 1820 Btackwood's Mag. (Nov.) 201:
Frae that day to this, my guid aik cleeky has never mair been heard tell o'.
Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders xxv.:
This “kent,” or great staff was more than two yards long and prodigiously stout, with a pike at the farther end, and a “clickie” handle, made closer at the lower part for catching sheep by the leg.

Phr.: airt o' the clicky, see Airt, n.2, 2.

(3) “The hooked piece of iron used by children to guide their hoop” (Edb.1, Lnk.3 1936).

(4) A salmon gaff (Bnff.2, Abd.19, Fif.1, Lnk.3 1937). m.Sc. 1917 J. Buchan Poems 44:
The pooches o' their moleskin breeks Contained unlawfu' things like cleeks, For folk that fish to fill their wame Are no fasteedious at the game.
Rxb. 1868 Hawick Advertiser (7 March) 3/3:
When he appeared, a cleek and a fishing lantern were found in his possession.

(5) A muck-rake (Bnff.2, Abd.9 1937). Used fig. in comb. with muck in Bch. quot. = dirty hands, this use prob. arising through some confusion with Cleuk, n.1 (2), a hand. Abd. 1906 J. Christie in Bnffsh. Jnl. (3 July) 3:
The dung wi' cleeks was put in heaps.
Bch. 1928 (per Abd.15):
Yon wifie wis the foolest ye ever saw, for aifter milkin the kye she inte the makkin o' wir pottage on-washen her sharny muck-cleeks.

(6) “A form of trip in wrestling” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). For ex., see Rxb. quot. s.v. Flaip, 1. Also found in n.Eng. dial. in form click (E.D.D.).

(7) “The supply of hutches in the pit, interference with which is known as stegging the cleek” (Edb.6 1943); (see also quot.). Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 18:
In former times the baskets in which the coal was drawn up the shaft were attached to the rope by a cleek, and the cleek in course of time came to mean the whole organisation for raising the coal from a colliery. Hence stopping the cleek . . . i.e. causing an interruption of the output of the coal.

(8) “A small catch designed to fall into the notch of a wheel” (Sc. 1790 Grose Gl., MS. Add. (see E.D.D. s.v. click, n.1); the latch of a door or gate or of a window shutter (Cai.7, Fif.10 1937). Ags. 1703 Dun Kirk-Session Papers in V. Jacob Lairds of Dun (1931) 6:
Eight iron Cleiks for the wiers [of the windows] is five shill. six pennies.
Per. 1898 E.D.D.:
Lift the cleek an' step yer wyes ben.

(9) “A windle (shaped something like a joiner's boring brace) used for twisting straw-ropes or ‘sookans'” (Ork. 1929 Marw., kleek).

(10) A hold, grasp, clutch. Sc. 1830 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1855) II. 349:
What think ye . . . o' thir pair o' boot-hooks? Gin I could get a cleek o' the bane by ane o' the vertebrae, I might hoise it gently up, by slaw degrees.
Ork.(D) 1880 Dennison Orcad. Sk. Bk. 39:
Andro . . . coor'd doon i' mortal f'are o' gettin' a cleeque fae the g'aist.

(11) “An inclination to trick; a fraudulent disposition” (Bnff. 1866 Gregor D. Bnff. 25; Abd.19 1930); a trick. Known to Bnff.2 1937. Bnff. 1924 “Knoweheid” in Swatches o' Hamespun 82:
An' warnt them weel O' Sawtan's cleik, an' the deil's ain skeel.
Ags. 1821 D. Shaw Humorous Songs and Poems 7:
In a' my schemes an' tricks an' cleeks, They're aye a plague to me, man.

2. Plural uses: (1) “A cramp in the legs, to which horses are subject; so denominated, because it cleiks, or as it were hooks up, their hinder-legs” (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Bnff.2 1937, rare), string-halt. See cleekups under 3.

(2) Lumbago (ellipt. for cleek-i'-the-back; see 3 (5) below). Rxb. 1820 A.M. in Trans. Hawick Arch. Soc. (1912) 48:
Wi' cramps and cleeks may he be pest, An' o' diseases be a nest.

3. Phrases and combs.: (1) cleek-airm, “an artificial arm with a hook” (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (2) cleek anchor, a small anchor (Cai.7, Kcb.9 1937); (3) cleek-coal, “coal as it comes from the pit” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 18; Edb.6 1943); cf. 1 (7) above; (4) click-iron, a golf cleek; (5) cleek-i'-the-back, “lubago or rheumatism” (Rxb. (Teviotdale) 1825 Jam.2; 1923 Watson W.-B.); †(6) cleeksman, “in former times the person who unhooked the baskets of coal at the pithead” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 19); (7) click spavin, = (8); (8) cleekups, “stringhalt; a twitching disease in the hind legs of a horse or ass” (Uls. 1880 W. H. Patterson Gl. Ant. and Dwn.); also used of persons with a jerky movement of the legs in walking; (9) free cleek, “the right of a miner to get hutches without waiting his turn or ben” (Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Sc. Mining Terms 30); see 1 (7). (2) Kcb. 1894 S. R. Crockett Raiders i.:
I got into the shallow water, taking the little cleek anchor ashore.
(4) Fif. 1842 in Rules of Golf (ed. C. B. Clapcott 1935) 78–79:
A ball . . . which requires to be played with a heavy or click-iron . . . shall not be reckoned on the putting-green, nor entitled to the privilege of lifting loose impediments.
(7) w.Dmf. 1920 J. L. Waugh Heroes in Homespun 10:
Donald was certainly trotting, but he had a “click spavin,” which made his movement so jerky . . . that it gave me the hiccough.
(8) Uls.3 1930:
“He (horse or man) has the cleekups.” (Always used with the definite article.)

[O.Sc. cleke, cleik, cleek, a metal hook, usually of some size or strength, used for holding, pulling, or suspending (D.O.S.T.), rare Mid.Eng. cleke, a.1400–1450, act of clutching; prob. corr. southern Mid.Eng. cleche, c.1225, a claw; related to Cleek, v.1, below. Meanings (10) and (11) under 1 are from the v.]

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

"Cleek n.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jan 2022 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: