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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 and 2005 supplements.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.


1. Sc. usages in phrs.: (1) to gee (jow) one's ginger, to bestir oneself, see Jee and Jow; (2) to warm someone's ginger, to give someone a thrashing (m.Lth.1 1954).(2) Sc. 1900 E.D.D.:
A mother might warn her child, “Tak care or I'll warm yer ginger.”

2. See quot. and Billion. Poss. so-called from their similarity to the rhizomes of ginger. Ayr. 1896 Trans. Inv. Scientific Soc. V. 103:
Those curious concretions called crackers or fairy stones. . . . In the stratified muds and clays they appear as if they had been turned in a lathe, the outcropping of the layers forming so many "heads", and are then called "gingers."

3. A fizzy soft drink (of any flavour) (Edb., Gsw., Ayr., Dmf. 2000s).Gsw. 1984 James Kelman The Busconductor Hines 32:
Christ sake man, transistor radios playing, drinking bottles of ginger, the place stowed out with folk chatting about football and everything.
Gsw. 1985 Michael Munro The Patter 29:
ginger A general term for all varieties of fizzy soft drinks: 'Gie's a boatle a ginger, missis,' 'What kinna ginger, son?' 'Lemonade.'
Gsw. 1989:
Get us a boattle o ginger when ye're doon it the shoap - American cream soda.
Gsw. 1990 Alan Spence The Magic Flute (1991) 18:
'Can I finish that ginger?' he said, pointing at a cola bottle, almost empty, on the sideboard.
m.Lth. 1992:
I always asked for ginger even before yer granma came on the scene.
Gsw. 1993 Herald (12 Mar) 14:
We asked the nice French waitress what kind of ginger it was. "Fresh ginger," she said. We said that we assumed it was a fresh bottle of ginger but was it cream soda, limeade, Irn Bru or what?
m.Sc. 1994 Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay Forever Yours, Marie-Lou 36:
It's true ah shouldnae drink...But what the fuck else pleasure dae ah hiv left in ma life? Nae wey ah'm gauntae the bar jist tae drink ginger!
Gsw. 1998 Herald (11 Jul) 26:
You do not equate the French with TV dinners, microwaves, bottles of ginger and fish suppers.
Sc. 1999 Herald (30 Sep) 9:
Head brewer Robin Graham said: "In Glasgow, before the war, all the shops used to brew their own ginger beer. That's why you still get wee boys going in for a bottle of lemonade and asking for a bottle of ginger."

[Phr. 1. (1) seems to originate in the use of ginger, purely for alliteration, and then taken as a synonym for the behind, posterior. Hence phr. 1. (2).]

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"Ginger n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 May 2024 <>



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