Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology Cite this entry

CORK, n.

1. An overseer; a master tradesman; a small employer, “small contraetor” (e.Rs.1 1929, rare); “a name given by operative weavers to the agents of manufacturers” (Clydes. 1825 Jam.2). Known to Abd.22, Ags.1 1937. ne.Sc. 1884 D. Grant Lays and Leg. of the North 60:
The human voice oor “cork” believes The only sicker test.
Ags. 1878 J. S. Neish Reminisc. Brechin 18:
The “cork” was a bachelor, and lived by himself.
Rnf. 1871 D. Gilmour “Pen” Folk (1873) 45–46:
When there was a difference between the weaving body and manufacturers in town about a rise or a reduction in prices, a brother . . . rose in Church, and . . . concluded by denouncing the “Corks” as a pack of heartless, self-seeking heathens.
Ayr. 1910 T. Bruce in Poets of Ayrsh. (ed. Macintosh) 233:
Agents and Corks, in ruthless thraw.
Wgt. 1880 G. Fraser Lowland Lore 172:
I'll tell ye a' that I hae been yable to mak' oot concernin' oor neebors up the stairs, an' yise get it as I gat it frae the aul' cork o' the squad himsel'.

†Phr.: to kick the cork, “to ask money from the agent of a manufacturer” (Clydes. 1825 Jam.2).

2. Applied to a master in gen. (Abd.9, Arg.1 1937). Ayr. 1823 Galt Gathering of the West 294:
I'm fain too . . . to see what sort o' a cork a King really is.

[Origin uncertain, but cf. Eng. slang corks, master of the mint; money (naut.) (Farmer and Henley).]

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

"Cork n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 23 Jan 2021 <>



Try an Advanced Search

Browse SND: