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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

FANG, n.1, v.1 Also faang, †fange.

I. n. 1. Booty, plunder, stolen property (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); 1914 Angus Gl.), often in phr. stoun (stolen) fangs (Abd.27 1950); a “find” (Ork. 1920 J. Firth Reminisc. Ork. Par. (1922) 151; Ork.5, Cai.3 1950); a great bargain (Sc. 1818 Sawers; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.). By extension, something of little value or importance (m.Lth.1 1951).Kcd. 1699 Black Bk. Kcd. (1843) 99:
Here is the fang! where is the thief?
Sc. 1746 S.C. Misc. (1841) I. 386:
Two men monstrously stupid, denyed their crime with their last breath, though the stollin fang was found about them.
Ags. 1790 D. Morison Poems 110:
Snap went the sheers, then in a wink, The fang was stow'd behind a bink.
Ork. 1880 Dennison Sketch-Bk. 6:
Sae they draiggit her aff tae the boat tinkin' dey hed fund a fang.
ne.Sc. 1881 W. Gregor Folk-Lore 33:
He could not rest in peace till he had given away in charity the whole sum that had been paid back. “I'll hae nae stoun faangs i' the hoose,” said the man.
Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.:
A dinna care a fang.

Phrs.: †(1) in the fang, in the act of stealing (Sc. 1710 T. Ruddiman Gl. to Douglas Aeneis, s.v. fang). Cf. Infangthief; (2) red fang, red-handed, of a murderer; †(3) with the fang, in Sc. Law, having stolen goods in one's possession when apprehended.(2) Ayr. 1825 A. Crawford Tales of My Grandmother I. 120:
The murderer being found with the weapon of slaughter in his hand, with the blood upon it, or, as it is termed, red fang.
(3) Sc. 1700 S.C. Misc. (1846) 179:
Unless the thieff be taken with the fang, he cannot pursue be way of indytement without concurse of the privat pairtie.
Sc. 1780 D. Hume Trial for Crimes I. 102:
If the thief were taken with the booty on him, or with the fang as it was called, the Sheriff might try him.
s.Sc. 1897 E. Hamilton Outlaws xix.:
One that would hang a moss-trooper taken “with the fang” with as little compunction as he would kill a rat.

2. A burden; a heavy bundle, esp. when carried in the arms (Cai. 1900 E.D.D.; Cai.3, Abd.27 1950).

3. Grasp, clutches, durance; also fig. a fix, predicament.Ags. 1794 W. Anderson Piper of Peebles 15:
The laird was fairly in a fang, An' naething for him now, but hang.
Ayr. 1821 C. Lockhart Poems 81:
But wardly care has gat me now Sae fairly in her fang.
Rnf. 1846 W. Finlay Poems 209:
The best way I ken ye'll get out o' this fang, Instead o' our siller, just gie's a bit sang.
Abd. 1893 G. Macdonald Sc. Songs 113:
The sun comes na oot, but he's no in a fang.

4. Of a pump: the capacity for suction (Mry., Abd., Ags., Per., Fif., Ayr., Gall. 1950). Gen. in phrs.: (1) aff the fang, off the fang (a) of a pump: having lost its suction (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bnff.9, Abd.27, Ags.19, Fif.10, Slg.3, m.Lth.1, wm.Sc.1, Kcb.10 1950); (b)  fig., gen. of persons: out of humour, without one's usual spirit or skill (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Bnff., Abd., Ags., Per., Fif., m.Lth., wm.Sc. 1950), out of season or condition; (2) on the fang, (a) lit., of a pump, in working order (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.); (b) fig., in a good mood, in good fettle; (3) oot o' fang = (1) (a) (Mry., m.Lth.1, Wgt. 1950); = (1) (b) (Wgt., Kcb.10 1950); (4) to be in the fang, fig., to be in the mood, gen. used neg. (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth.1 1951); (5) to lose (tine, want) the fang, (a) lit., of a pump, to lose the power of retaining water (Sc. 1825 Jam.; Sc. 1886 J. Barrowman Mining Terms 27; Abd.27, Slg.3, m.Lth.1 1950): rarely of other objects; (b) fig., to fail, to be disappointed in one's efforts or expectations (Lth. 1825 Jam.); to lose the knack or skill.(1) (a) Sc. 1828 Quarterly Jnl. Agric. I. 396:
Unless the bucket . . . permit the air to ooze through it, which will press down the water to its natural level, and so put the well off the fang.
Knr. 1886 “H. Haliburton” Horace 58:
Oot-owre the dyke abune the pump That's gane clean aff the fang.
Ags. 1899 J. B. Salmond My Man Sandy xvi.:
His lorn shune liftin' wi' a noisy gluck, juist like a pump aff the fang.
Lnk. 1923 G. Rae Braefoot vi.:
The confoonded things [pumps] are aye gaun aff the fang.
Sc. 1930 Scotsman (28 May) 16/3:
“The pump is aff the fang”, still common in rural Scotland.
(b) Edb. 1878 D. Cuthbertson Rosslyn Lyrics 47:
His legs like his voice had been years off the fang.
Lnk. 1895 W. Stewart Lilts 34:
Oh deil tak thae blethers wi' lugs aff the fang.
Sc. 1928 J. G. Horne Lan'wart Loon 26:
In troth oor Tam was aff the fang, An' menseless tae, for oot he flang.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 67:
'Suddenly I remembered how I had envied her those earrings, how I had gone off the fang with Mother for giving them to her instead of me.'
(2) (b) Sc. 1795 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 719:
My spirits that for four months lang Had ta'en the gie, Lap in a tres-ace on the fang At strike o' thee [a bell].
(3) Ayr. 1885 R. Lawson Maybole 43:
The auld Castle Well's refreshing to drink, But it gangs gey an' aft oot o' fang.
Ags. 1898 A. H. Rea Divot Dyke 73:
He never tells, of coorse, when things gae wrang, When streams are low and fishin' oot o' fang.
(5) (a) Rnf. 1850 A. McGilvray Poems 71:
His tongue, like to a well-gaun pump, That never wants the fang.
Ayr. 1852 M. Lochhead Poems 16:
While barrels o' yill are loosing fang, And bungs are fleeing.
(b) Edb. 1798 D. Crawford Poems 47:
At length an' lang, Thought I, what needs I mair time spen', She's tint the fang.
Ayr. 1840 J. Ramsay Woodnotes 182:
I fin' my Muse has lost the fang.
Gsw. 1877 A. G. Murdoch Laird's Lykewake 20:
Tammie's moral shuttle Had that nicht somehow lost the fang.

5. Mental grasp, understanding; the “hang” of a thing.Rxb.4 1951:
I've got the fang o't now = I understand how it works now.

6. A coil or bend of a rope (s.Sc. 1802 J. Sibbald Chron. Sc. Poetry Gl.; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; m.Lth.1 1951). Cf. Fank, n.1, v.1

II. v. ‡1. To seize, capture; to catch (fish, sc. expertly) (Sh.11 1951). Also fig. to captivate.Sc. 1728 Ramsay Poems 103:
O cou'd I bear my Wealth alang! Nae Heir shou'd e'er a Farthing fang.
Sc. 1803 Scott Minstrelsy III. 363:
I, in a glint, lap on ahint, And in my arms fangit. . . .
Rxb. 1807 J. Ruickbie Wayside Cottager 174:
But gif the warl' be like to wrang ye, Its frowns will fear, its smiles will fang ye.
s.Sc. 1880 J. Crawhall Border Notes 10:
Gin we bring them to bay Nae “saufey”we'll pay — Weel fangit — syne hangit — we'se see them a'.

2. To induce suction in a pump (by pouring down water to cause the sucker to swell and recover its grip), to prime a pump (Mry., Ags.2, Fif.17, Edb.3, Gall. 1946). Also fig.Sc. 1819 Blackwood's Mag. (Sept.) 654:
Gie him a bumper by all means . . . only look, Mr Tickler, we've scarcely enough left to fang anither bowl.
Ib. Footnote:
To fang a well signifies to pour into it sufficient water to set the pump at work again.
Edb. 1894 P. H. Hunter J. Inwick 79:
They're aye fangin the well — giein votes here, an' votes there — but foul a drap o' watter e'er comes oot o't.

[O.Sc. fang, seizure (a.1400), booty (1589), to seize (1456), O.E. fang, booty, ge-fangen, captured, pa.p. of fon. For n., 2, cf. O.N. fang, baggage.]

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"Fang n.1, v.1". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 16 Jun 2024 <>



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