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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 but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GLISK, v., n. [glɪsk]

I. v. 1. tr. & intr. To glance, to take a cursory look (Sh.10 rare, wm.Sc.1 1954); to catch a glimpse of.Sc. 1720 R. Wodrow Corresp. (1843) II. 490:
I have only got time to glisk it over cursorily.
Ayr. 1821 Scots Mag. (April) 351:
In glisking owre your letter, a kin' o' nettling ramfeezlement gart a' my heart whiltie-whaltie.
Slk. a.1835 Hogg Poems (1865) 63:
She gliskit wi her e'e.
Arg. 1914 N. Munro New Road xxxii.:
I came . . . to glisk again through this place.
Sc. 1926 Scots Mag. (Nov.) 94:
An' he glisked up at me to see the effect o' his words.
Lnk. 1951 G. Rae Howe o' Braefoot 146:
In a singin' bird ye can glisk a likeness to the glory that fills a' heaven.
m.Sc. 1986 Tony McManus in Joy Hendry Chapman 43-4 170:
Glisk them frae yer aidle-pool, the wild geese, the savage,
They're whaur they wish tae be, flyin free owre bens
Sc. 1995 David Purves Hert's Bluid 26:
"A'm a richt auld wyfie, gittin," said his mither,
an whan Andrae gliskit, richt aneuch,
the war mair nor a bit o the kerlin about hir: ...
Abd. 1996 Sheena Blackhall Wittgenstein's Web 25:
Hoosaeiver, here an there, atween the trickery an trasherie o New Age dreidlocks an beads, he glisked genuine Spanish leather-wirkers an Toledo jewelsmiths, like winnin a teet o Yehudi Menuhin amang a squalloch a glee singers.

2 “To give a hasty, transient gleam” (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), Sh.10 1954, rare); to flit with ghostly glimmer.Sh. 1892 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 259:
Naethin' faered me, bit ghosts, foregengs, witches, an' hillfolk gliskin' aboot me in a dark nicht.
Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928):
If de sun would glisk ut, if only the sun would peep out between the clouds.

II. n. Dims. gliskie, -y.

1. A glance, a cursory look, a peep, a glimpse (Kcb.4 1900; Ayr.4 1928; Ork.1, Bnff.2 1945; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein; Rxb. 1942 Zai; Sh., Cai., Abd., Per., Slg., Fif., Peb., wm.Sc. 1954), esp. of a glittering object (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.).Sc. 1692 A. Pitcairne Assembly (1722) 19:
The malignants, whom they knew by the first Glisk of their faces.
Sc. 1716 R. Wodrow Corresp . (1843) II. 164:
I send Prideaux to your father, . . . I was much pleased with the glisk I took of it.
Sc. 1814 Scott Waverley lxiv.:
They just got a glisk o' his honour as he gaed into the wood, and banged aff a gun at him.
Slk. 1818 Hogg B. of Bodsbeck iii.:
I begoud to heave 't [stick] up, no to strike them, but just to gi'e them a glisk o' the coming-on that was in't.
Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sk. & Poems 91:
Een o' da Custom-Hoose men wis seen a glisk o' da bag.
Kcb. 1894 Crockett Raiders v.:
She . . . had gotten a glisk of the grey thing that louped from Mistress Allison's petticoat.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle xxxv.:
She had a notion o' the Frenchman frae the first glisk o' him.
m.Sc. 1927 J. Buchan Witch Wood viii.:
I had but a glinsk [sic] of them, before they beat the senses out of me.

2. A gleam, a sparkle, a transitory flash (of light) (Gall. 1824 MacTaggart Gallov. Encycl. 233; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928); Abd. 1922 Swatches o' Hamespun 56; Ork. 1929 Marw.; ‡Sh.10, ‡ne.Sc., wm.Sc.1 1954); a glance (from the eye). Also in n.Eng. dial. Also deriv. glisker (Sh. a.1836 Jam. MSS. XII. 95).Sc. 1820 Blackwood's Mag. (June) 277:
The flocks thickly scattered over the heath, arose, . . . and turned to the ruddying east glisk of returning light.
Sc. 1824 S. E. Ferrier Inheritance I. xviii.:
I would na gi'e a glisk of thae bonny een of your's for aw the eyes o' the world put thegither.
Ags. 1873 D. M. Ogilvy Poems 86:
Ye are bright as the first siller glisk o' the morning.
Arg. 1898 N. Munro John Splendid xviii.:
The rapture of his eye infected me like a glisk of the sun.
Dmf. 1912 A. Anderson Later Poems 267:
Hills . . . that lift their tappans to the sky An' catch a glisk o' richer licht.
Per. 1990 Betsy Whyte Red Rowans and Wild Honey (1991) 45:
Auld Jean was delighted with the strawberries and said with a glisk in her eyes, 'They were worth waiting for.'

Hence glisky, adj., bright, sunny (between dull periods). Also in Cum. dial.Sh. 1948 New Shetlander (Oct.–Nov.) 22:
Last ook he cam twartree glisky starts, an I gets my scaur up inta muckle koles, an dan cerried ta da yard.

3. Fig. uses: (1) A moment, a twinkling, a short space of time (Sh.10 rare, Peb., wm.Sc.1 1954).Edb. 1791 J. Learmont Poems 172:
Red ein, wi' plooks owr niz an' mou', Wi' maw owrcoupin' like to sp — Maist ilka glisky.
Sh. 1877 G. Stewart Fireside Tales 33:
If ye wid just bide a glisk whaur ye ir, I wid rin hame for a sark o' my midder's.
Sc.(E) 1913 H. P. Cameron Imit. Christ i. xxiii.:
Hoo mony hae been begunkit, an' hae been clippit awa' frae the boul in a glisk!
Ork. 1929 Marw.:
Come oot wi' me for a glisk.
em.Sc. 2000 James Robertson The Fanatic 117:
'He finds it' - he coughed - 'a pool less choked with the persecuted brethren than here. He's a muckle fish and needs mair space to swim in. Although I believe he would be back in a glisk were Mr Hog's place to become vacant.'

(2) Applied to anything slight in character or of short duration (Sh.10 rare, wm.Sc.1 1954), e.g. a momentary sensation of pain or pleasure; a short spell, a brief quick movement; a whiff.Lnk. 1827 J. Watt Poems 78:
Baith high an' low get but a glisk [of pure happiness], While clad wi' human nature.
Ags. 1887 A. D. Willock Rosetty Ends 46:
It wasna till a meenit or twa afore the end cam' that a glisk o' reason cam' back.
Edb. 1892 J. W. M'Laren Poems 33:
The glisk o' a smile sune displaced the wild stare.
Sc. 1893 Stevenson Catriona xviii.:
In the midst of the disgust that commonly overflowed my spirits I had a glisk of pleasure.
Sc. 1910 D. G. Mitchell Sermons 61:
A glisk o' the dank air frae the deid mirk dale crap owre them.

Phr.: a glisk(y) o' cauld, a “touch” of cold, a slight cold (Fif. 1825 Jam., 1916 G. Blaik Rustic Rhymes 167; Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ags., Per., Slg., Fif., Rxb. 1954). Cf. Gliff, n., 2. (4), Glint, n., 3. (2).Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 26:
My blude's unco thin, I'm frail, frail, an' auld, An' canna e'en thole a wee glisk o' cauld.
Fif. 1895 “G. Setoun” Sunshine & Haar 243:
I'm doubtin' I've gotten a glisk o' cauld.

†(3) A fright, scare. Cf. Gliff, n., 3., id.Rnf. 1876 D. Gilmour Paisley Weavers xii.:
I learned in after years that my father got such a glisk for the part he took in '93 as sharpened his wits and rendered him more patient of evils he could not cure.

(4) A resemblance, a slight similarity (Sh., Abd., Ags., Per. 1975). Abd. 1875 G. MacDonald Malcolm xxxi.:
He has a glisk o' the markis tu.

[Prob. the same word as Norw. dial. glisa, to gleam, flash, glisten, glis, glimpse of light, corr. O.E. glisian, to glitter, + suff. -k with dim. or freq. force, as in Eng. talk, walk, etc.]

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"Glisk v., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Nov 2022 <>



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